Pulis impressed by Blackpool

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The Independent Football

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has not been surprised by Blackpool's Carling Cup form now his old friend Ian Holloway is in charge at Bloomfield Road.

The teams meet in the Carling Cup tonight and Pulis is a big admirer of Holloway, who he tips to become a legend by the seaside.

Blackpool thumped Wigan 4-1 in the second round and will travel to Stoke in confident mood after victories over Newcastle and Nottingham Forest.

Pulis, who is set to field his second-string side, said: "It's going to be a very tough game. Reidy (Stoke's assistant manager Peter Reid) saw them beat Newcastle and was very impressed.

"Blackpool are physically very strong and I'm not surprised they are giving everyone a run for their money. 'Ollie' is building a good side and we will have our hands full."

A friendship developed when the schoolboy Holloway joined Bristol Rovers at a time when Pulis was knocking on the first-team door.

Holloway later became godfather to Pulis' son, Anthony, and the two men follow each other's managerial careers with great interest.

Pulis said: "Ollie's an infectious character and they will love him at Blackpool. They will have rock with his name through it soon.

"He took some time out after things didn't work out for him at Leicester. In hindsight, he would probably have stayed at Plymouth if he could have his time over again.

"But his batteries are recharged now and Blackpool are already feeling the benefits.

"We struck up a friendship at Bristol Rovers many years ago and our families got on very well. His dad, Bill, was a similar character to him and I've got a lot of happy memories.

"I could also tell a few stories about Ollie from our time with Rovers, but I think I will keep them to myself."

Many of Stoke's shadow side will be in the shop window tonight as Pulis looks to trim a squad which has nudged over the 30 mark after the captures of Tuncay, Robert Huth and Danny Collins.

Pulis said: "There are players who we would allow out on loan and there are players who will be doing their utmost to get back into our side.

"The team we put out will be very competitive and have something to prove, so I'm looking forward to a good game."

One player in Stoke's starting line-up, and not going anywhere, will be Uruguay international Diego Arismendi.

The 21-year-old defensive midfielder has been given time to settle since a £2.75million move from Club Nacional on transfer deadline day.

Pulis said: "Diego has settled in smashing for a young man who have moved so far from his homeland.

"He's very, very enthusiastic and keen and we are looking forward to seeing him play. He's done very well in two reserve games and he will definitely start against Blackpool."