Pulis urges Potters focus
Stoke boss looking forward to 'massive' game
Last Updated: April 10, 2009 6:53pm
Tony Pulis admits he has had to guard his Stoke players from the 'media hype' surrounding Newcastle ahead of Saturday's crucial match.
The Magpies have been firmly in the spotlight since Alan Shearer took over as manager last week, with the debate raging about whether he can keep the club in the Premier League.
Newcastle will be desperate to ease their relegation worries with a victory at the Britannia Stadium but it is also a key game for Stoke, who are six points clear of the bottom three.
Pulis has banned his players from speaking to the press and rested them up in preparation for Newcastle's visit.
He said: "It's absolutely vital that our players concentrate 100 per cent on the match and are kept away from any outside influences.
"I'm determined to guard them from all the media hype and everything else that's quite understandably connected with Newcastle and Alan Shearer.
"It's a massive, massive game for both clubs and all the rigmarole that is bound to come with Alan and Newcastle could be a distraction.
"They are an enormous club and the spotlight will be on them, but all we need to be concerned about is Stoke City."
Praise for duo
Pulis is confident January signings James Beattie and Matthew Etherington can continue to fire his team to safety.
Beattie has netted six goals in 10 starts since a £3.5million move from Sheffield United, while Pulis believes Etherington has had just as much of an impact following his arrival from West Ham.
"James has been a fantastic influence at the club from the moment he walked through the dressing room door," said the Potters boss.
"He settled in straight away and is always laughing and joking and playing tricks on everyone. More importantly, of course, he is also doing the business on the pitch.
"Matty is a quieter and more refined person and perhaps the publicity James has been getting has helped to keep him out of the spotlight.
"That has enabled Matty to get on with things quietly and I think that has suited him. He's a good lad and his performances have spoken volumes. I'm sure there is a lot more to come from him."