Pulis urges focus ahead of Tottenham clash

Tony Pulis believes Stoke's 150th anniversary will be a wonderful occasion for the fans but does not want his players to be sidetracked.

Stoke City - Charlie Adam

The Potters will mark the occasion with a series of events before Sunday's clash against Tottenham at the Britannia Stadium, including a variety of on-field entertainment and a parade of more than 80 former players.

The likes of Sir Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks are confirmed to appear in that group, and, while Pulis acknowledges how special it will be for supporters, he wants his side to focus on Spurs and nothing else.

"We're hoping we can put in a good performance. It's a big game for us as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the football club," he said.

"The club has a lot of stuff going on around the game but what we have to do is concentrate on giving Tottenham a run for their money.

"The celebrations will be good for the crowd but we won't see any of it - we'll be preparing in the dressing room.

"The big thing for us is to concentrate on the game and let everyone else enjoy the occasion.

"The important thing for me is the 90 minutes. When the whistle goes the supporters will want the players to be right on it and taking the game to Tottenham."

One potential consequence of the festivities is a surge in support from the terraces.

Pulis has come under serious fan pressure for the first time in his reign, despite sitting 11th in the table and in with a chance of a creditable top-half finish.

There have been suggestions that the team's style of play has played a part in turning off some sections of the fanbase, but Pulis has been offering a staunch defence of his position in recent weeks and picked up the theme again today.

He said: "At the Britannia, it's about how we play. There will be 28,000 people in the stadium. It'll be a fantastic day and when the game kicks off hopefully the crowd get behind us and we can put in a very, very good performance.

"We're into the sixth successive season as a Premier League club. That's a fantastic achievement by the football club and everyone connected to it.

"But irrespective of what you do in life, some people will always want more.

"Some people appreciate it and some want more. That's fine - if that's the way they lead their lives there's nothing wrong with that for me.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinions."

Stoke drew 1-1 against Sunderland on Monday - a slightly disappointing result having taken an early lead and then been handed a numerical advantage when Craig Gardner was sent off.

Pulis may yet be persuaded to add Andy Wilkinson and Glenn Whelan to bolster his starting XI, but the pair have just returned to training after respective back and groin problems and could begin on the bench.

"Those two have been out for a couple of weeks so whether they are ready to go straight back in the team, I'm not so sure," he added.

"Glenn has done a little this morning and Andy joined in with training but has not done a great deal. We'll assess it tomorrow [Saturday]."



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