Stoke injury problems mount for Pulis

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Stoke manager Tony Pulis could be forced to field an understrength side against Burnley tonight at Turf Moor.

He will wait until the last minute to finalise his team in the hope that a number of injured players may recover in time to play a part. Glenn Whelan, Danny Higginbotham, Matthew Etherington and James Beattie are all doubtful while Ryan Shawcross remains suspended.

Pulis said: "I honestly don't know what my side will be. One or two will undergo late fitness tests in the hope we can get them on the pitch."

He added: "It is certainly going to test the strength of the squad because we do not want to rush the players back if they are not quite ready."

Pulis wants his team to bounce back after the FA Cup defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but he expects a rough ride against a Burnley side fighting to avoid relegation and a swift return to the second tier.

"Their home games will be like cup finals, just as they were for us at the Britannia Stadium last season when we needed the points to climb to safety," he said.

"There's a tremendous atmosphere at Turf Moor and because this is all fresh and new, like it was for us last season, they will keep going right to the end. So we know it's going to be a very tough match for us and therefore we have to show the right attitude."

Stoke do not look in danger of going down but Pulis is refusing to take anything for granted.

He said: "It's very important that we get the points on the board now to secure our place in this league for another season, and we get them as quickly as possible. People are saying that we are safe, but I won't be happy until we have got to that 40-point mark.

"It can change so quickly and we have a tough run-in to the end of the season when you consider that our last three matches are Chelsea away, Everton at home and then Manchester United away."

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