Pulis back Jones to shine

Stoke boss feels striker has ability to be in Champions League

Jones: Backed by his boss

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Stoke manager Tony Pulis feels that striker Kenwyne Jones has the quality to be a UEFA Champions League player if he performs on a consistent basis.

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"I see some players have been talking about Europe - but we're quite happy in Stoke-on-Trent at the moment!"

Tony Pulis.

Quotes of the week

The Trinidad international became the club's record signing following his £8million move from Sunderland, but has suffered from a goal drought having scored just one in 13 games.

It has become a familiar criticism of the mercurial frontman over his career, having endured similar sorts of spells while at the Black Cats, and which former boss Steve Bruce hinted at following his exit.

There are few doubters to his ability when on top form, with Chelsea defender John Terry once branding Jones "the best in the air in the entire Premier League".

But despite not being in that kind of destructive form at the current time, Pulis backed his player to overcome criticism from some of his own supporters and really show what he can do against Birmingham on Saturday at St Andrews.

"Kenwyne has been up and down but that's Kenwyne. If he was spot on every week, he wouldn't be playing for Stoke - he'd be at one of the top four," said Pulis.

"Players go up and down and you have to accept that.

"He stayed behind on Tuesday - doing extra work and after training he was doing his own stuff.

Family

"He wants to do it and we want to help him. He's part of the family and when things aren't going well for people in respect of their family, we all rally round.

"Kenwyne just needs a goal to get his confidence back up. We're sure playing up front with big John Carew will help him and get him back to where he wants to be."

Stoke's 3-2 win over Sunderland last Saturday has taken them into ninth place, with some suggesting that they could even make Europe.

But Pulis insisted that they needed to take each game as it comes and not get carried away with their ambitions.

"We'll just be keeping our feet on the ground and concentrating on staying up. We might need more than 40 points this season," Pulis added.

"I see some players have been talking about Europe - but we're quite happy in Stoke-on-Trent at the moment!"