Back-to-back home games key for Stoke boss Tony Pulis
The Potters have won just twice this season
Thursday 22 November 2012
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has stressed the need for his team to make the most of back-to-back home games over the next few days as they look to kickstart their season - and feels the support they receive from the stands will be vital.
While they have only suffered three defeats in their opening 12 Barclays Premier League matches this term, the Potters have won just twice and are currently 14th in the table on 13 points, four points above the relegation zone.
As Pulis has been keen to point out, seven of the 12 fixtures have been away days for his side and with them now facing two games in quick succession at the Britannia Stadium - where they claimed both of the victories and are unbeaten in the league so far - it would appear to be a real opportunity for them to truly spark their campaign into life.
That is certainly the Welshman's hope ahead of the visits of Fulham on Saturday and Newcastle on Wednesday, occasions where Pulis thinks the contribution from Stoke's notoriously vociferous fans will be as important as ever.
"We have played seven away from home and only five at home," Pulis said.
"We have to make our home games count - that has always been the case at Stoke City since we have been in the Premier League.
"And for the next two home games against Fulham and Newcastle, we are going to need our supporters - we need them to come and really, really get behind the lads.
"They have played an enormous part and hopefully they will do over the next few days."
Stoke last played on Monday night in a 1-1 draw at West Ham and with three more games coming up over the course of a week - they are at West Brom on December 1 - Pulis, who has several injury concerns within the squad, is ready to shuffle his pack if necessary.
"The players came in on Tuesday and did a warm-down and then we gave them Wednesday off," Pulis said.
"They will be back in today and we will see what the lads are like. One or two of them felt a little bit tired on Monday night, so we will look at it.
"They might be refreshed and ready to go again - if they are not, we will be quite prepared to change it around.
"Then we will have a look again for Wednesday and again for Saturday."
Pulis has Dean Whitehead available after the midfielder missed the West Ham contest due to a one-game suspension, but the manager is waiting for a fitness update on defender Andy Wilkinson, who limped off at Upton Park with an apparent back problem.
Striker Michael Owen, recently sidelined by a hamstring complaint, is unlikely to be ready for Saturday although he may feature against his old club Newcastle, while midfielder Rory Delap is continuing to recover from a hernia operation and Marc Wilson is expected to be out until after Christmas having broken his leg.
Pulis said: "Andy went for a scan yesterday so we'll be finding more out about him today.
"We are a little bit worried that he might have done something to a disc in his back.
"Michael is coming on alright, but I'm not so sure he will be ready for the first game.
"He might be available for the Wednesday and the following Saturday."
Meanwhile, Stoke have confirmed striker Mamady Sidibe - who is not part of their 25-man Premier League squad - has joined npower Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday on loan for a month.
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