Walters ready for the jeers

Stoke's former Ipswich hitman Jonathan Walters is braced for a hot reception when he returns to East Anglia to face Norwich City on Sunday.

The 27-year-old knows only too well that his Portman Road connections will single him out for special attention from an expectant Carrow Road crowd. Walters was on European duty for the Potters last night in their Europa League play-off away tie at Swiss club FC Thun before Tony Pulis' squad flew straight to Norfolk to prepare for the Canaries.

'I'm sure I'll get a bit of stick having been captain of Ipswich,' he said. 'It would be nice to go there and get a win but it'll be tough. There'll be full of confidence from their first game of the season against Wigan. It's their first home game back in the Premier League and we certainly won't take anything for granted.

'They will be a tough team to play against. A lot of the team who have got them back-to-back promotions will still be there. They are a good team unit and they know each other pretty well. Flying to Norwich, it is in the middle of nowhere, so going straight there gives us a couple of days of preparation which is good.'

Stoke's Norfolk visit caps a hectic first week to the Premier League campaign with a European tie sandwiched between last Sunday's goalless opener against Chelsea at the Britannia.

'Yeah, it will be tough. You are playing three times in a week so there is much less training involved,' said Walters. 'With the European games it adds a lot more onto the season. The Thursday, Sunday games add a little bit to it, but its something you just have to deal with. It's really a case of just getting yourself ready for the next game.

'I'm sure the management will alter the training slightly to do a lot less. It's all about the games. The games are coming thick and fast but everyone was dying to get pre-season over but obviously Europe is the place where everyone wants to be and we are looking forward to it.'

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Walters hailed Stoke's hard-fought point against the title contenders as fresh evidence Pulis's squad can build on a mid-table finish last season.

'It was tough. We had to defend a lot. We did it well as a whole team,' he said. 'It was a good point for us and then on the back of the two European wins we can go into these games with confidence. We have defended fantastically well this season and it's the foundations you build the teams on really and if we can carry that on through the rest of the season then I am sure the manager will be happy.'

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