Stoke City boss concerned by Norwich City’s momentum

Stoke City boss Tony Pulis would rather be anywhere but Carrow Road tomorrow afternoon.

The Potters' chief believes taking a side to Norwich for the Canaries' first home Premier League fixture in six years will prove a major test for his men.

Stoke flew straight to Norfolk after Thursday night's 1-0 Europa League play-off, first leg win against Swiss league leaders FC Thun to prepare for what lies in store.

'I would prefer to play them further down the line,' said Pulis. 'It will be even tougher because it is their first home game. We knew as soon as the fixtures came out, to get Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United as our first three home games is very difficult, so to get the away games we have as well – they are tough calls.'

Pulis has drawn parallels with Stoke's own experiences of returning to the big time when they beat Aston Villa 3-2 on their Premier League homecoming back in 2008.


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'Norwich are sold out and they are a very well-supported club. The atmosphere will be fantastic. It will be a difficult call for us after Switzerland,' he said.

'It is their first game at home back in the Premier. Go back to our first home game, when we played Aston Villa, who were a very good team under Martin O'Neill. We won that game, so things can happen.

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'Norwich is a fantastic football club. Delia Smith is a local lady and, like Peter Coates here is also a big supporter. It is old fashioned in that respect. The place will be buzzing, so we know it will be a hard call. There's no doubt it will be a carnival day down there. They are great supporters, both them and Ipswich. They are isolated so it is a little like being up in the north-east.'

Pulis has established Stoke in the top flight, but backs the managers of all three newly-promoted clubs to find their own way.

'I don't think I should be pontificating and telling other clubs and managers what to do,' he said. 'We have a way of doing things that we have stuck very rigidly to and we have gradually built things up here over the last three years.

'They are three very knowledgeable managers who have enough about them to learn as they move along. That's what you have to do. The only thing I would say is keep your own identity. So long as we have a great season I hope the three of them are very successful.' n Jon Walters has been rewarded for an impressive first year at Stoke with a 12-month contract extension which keeps him at the Britannia Stadium until the summer of 2015.

The striker was a �2.75million signing from Ipswich a year ago and went on to score 12 goals last season, including five in the Potters' run to the FA Cup final. Pulis said: 'Jon's rise to prominence is an inspiration to others. He has had to battle his way back up from the lower leagues through hard work and dedication.'

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