Stoke City vs Wolves preview - Pulis: League takes priority over cup final

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Posted Tuesday, April 26, 2011 by PA

Tony Pulis insists Stoke becoming established as a Premier League club is more important than possible FA Cup glory next month.

Pulis is full of pride at the Potters' achievement in clinching a Wembley meeting with Manchester City in three weeks.

But he knows it is only the icing on the cake compared to Stoke staying part of the top flight and becoming a force at that level.

Pulis, whose side entertain Wolves in a re-arranged game on Tuesday night, said: "We are absolutely delighted that we've got to an FA Cup final. It's an absolutely brilliant achievement by the club.

"But the priority will always be the Premier League.

"That's where we want to play, and the longer we are in the Premier League the club will grow because it will give us the finances to make it a stronger club.

"We are in the black, we have just built a brand new training ground, we are investing into other areas of the football club we would have never dreamt of if we hadn't got into the Premier League.

"The Premier League is the food and drink and the icing on the cake is the cup competitions."

Stoke are on the verge of guaranteeing a fourth successive season of Premier League football after Saturday's 1-1 draw at Aston Villa took them to the 39-point mark.

Pulis said: "We have five more games to go and we've said all along we have to try to get as many points as we can from the games left."

The Stoke boss believes striker Kenwyne Jones, who scored the opener at Villa Park with a superb header, is back to his best after a lean spell.

Pulis said: "I think he has 10 goals now this season. He's hitting form at the right time.

"Forwards go up and down. Rooney had one spell earlier in the season. He's got quality and eventually you know that will come through."

Pulis is facing an anxious wait to determine the extent of the Achilles injury suffered by another striker, Ricardo Fuller, after he appeared as a substitute at Villa.

Fuller had to be stretchered off amidst fears the injury may have shattered his Wembley dreams, and is due to have a scan in the next 24 hours.

But Pulis said: "Let's see what the scans say first before we start throwing positives or negatives at it. Then we'll take a view."

Stoke midfielder Rory Delap said: "It didn't look good after the game. We are all devastated if it is what everyone thinks it is.

"You never know with the scan but we are all thinking of him and we know how devastated he is.

"He's been a big part of this club and it will be devastating if Ricardo misses the final."

Mick McCarthy has told his players to keep calm ahead of a back-to-back away derbies which could be crucial to Wolves' Barclays Premier League survival hopes.

Wolves take on Stoke at the Britannia Stadium before tackling Birmingham at St Andrew's on Sunday.

But McCarthy is refusing to look upon the games as "make or break" to second from bottom Wolves' quest to secure a third successive season of top-flight football.

"It's all about having one more goal, one more point, being better than three other teams, come May 22, and we stay up," he said.

"Sorry for being dogmatic about that but that's the way it is.

"What happens if we don't win this week, what happens if we win the last two games and that's enough?

"I don't know what is going to be enough points and I know nobody else knows what will be enough.

"It would be seriously helpful to get points out of the next two games but I am not going to make it make or break.

"It might be the last game we need something and we might get it. The message is keep calm and keep playing.

"We have to affect our position, nobody else's. If by taking points off someone, we affect them, then fine.

"But it is our position we want to affect and the only way we can do that is by collecting points by virtue of a draw or a win and that's what we need to do."

McCarthy admits his players looked nervy during Saturday's draw with Fulham despite his own attempts to maintain a calm front.

He said: "I think for one it is about keeping a calm disposition yourself. It helps. I'm not saying I always do that when I'm on the side of the pitch.

"Generally on a day-to-day basis I do. Be calm, focused, clear on what you want, how you want to do it."

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