Pulis lashes out at 'skulduggery' in football

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The Independent Football

Stoke boss Tony Pulis has called for behind-the-scenes "skulduggery" in football to be exposed after reiterating his disappointment with wantaway goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

Begovic - linked with a move to Chelsea this summer - looks set to face disciplinary action following his absence from the Potters' 2-1 victory over Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, with Pulis claiming afterwards that the 23-year-old had refused to play.

Yesterday the Professional Footballers' Association revealed Begovic subsequently contacted them saying that he did not refuse to take part in the match, but had indicated, when asked by Pulis if he was 100% fit and ready to play, that "his mind was a little bit scrambled by things" and that he would prefer not to if there was an alternative.

That does not seem to have improved the Bosnian's position with his manager though, who today said the matter would be dealt with internally and vowed Stoke would not be pressurised by the kind of external influences he believes need to be put under the spotlight.

"There has always been and there always will be an element of skulduggery going on behind the scenes," Pulis said.

"For anyone to say that doesn't happen, people are telling lies - there is always that going on.

"You can't stop it from happening, but what I think you have got to do is identify it and make sure that it is exposed so that people are shown to be doing what they are doing.

"There are people behind the scenes who no-one will have even spoken to who are involved in this situation."

Having been unimpressed by the comments that came out of the PFA, Pulis will now hold talks with Begovic, who only joined Stoke from Portsmouth last season.

"I'm disappointed that the kid has come out and said that it wasn't him who decided he wasn't going to play," Pulis said.

"I think that is desperately disappointing and I will speak to him about that.

"He's a good kid and he has been smashing ever since he joined this club, but something has turned his head.

"It happens now in football and he is not the only one it has happened to - people blow in their ears, outside influences, and sometimes unfortunately they overstep the mark.

"I think you have to be strong enough as a football club, no matter how much pressure is being put on, to stand up at times and really protect your club."

He continued: "He is a grown-up, but you have got experienced players getting involved in this as well.

"It is not the first time it has happened and it will not be the last. It is just a disease which has grown and grown and grown."

Pulis confirmed he is happy for striker Dave Kitson to leave the club if he receives the right offer before the August 31 transfer deadline, and is looking to recruit several more new signings, with Portsmouth's Marc Wilson reported to be nearing a move to the Britannia Stadium.

"We are close to bringing quite a few players in and we're hoping by Monday that we might have signed a couple and will be well down the line on others," Pulis said.

Meanwhile, the manager is hopeful Kenwyne Jones (ankle) and Liam Lawrence (groin) could return from injury this weekend against Chelsea. Mamady Sidibe is a long-term absentee, although Pulis revealed today the striker may be able to return from his ruptured Achilles tendon by Christmas.