Stoke City Vs Wigan Athletic, Sun 22 May 2011

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Stoke boss Tony Pulis has expressed his sympathy for Wigan's relegation worries - but insists his team will be doing everything they can to increase them when the sides meet at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday.

The Latics travel to Staffordshire for their final Barclays Premier League fixture of the season lying 19th in the table, level on points with 18th-placed Blackpool and 17th-placed Birmingham, both of whom are also away from home.

A further point ahead are Wolves in 16th and Blackburn in 15th, who face each other at Molineux.

It all makes for a nerve-jangling conclusion to the battle for survival, something Pulis had a taste of with the Potters in the second tier at the end of the 2002/03 campaign.

His team secured their safety on that occasion and the 53-year-old knows how desperate opposite number Roberto Martinez will be for Wigan to do likewise.

But with Stoke currently ninth and on course for their highest finish since their promotion to the top flight in 2008, Pulis is not about to make any concessions.

"I've been in it once, the first year I came to Stoke," Pulis said.

"We ended up getting a victory against Reading to stay up. It's tough - there is a lot of emotion and as a manager, you have the whole weight of a football club and its supporters, everything on your shoulders.

"The Premier League is such a hugely rewarding industry to be in and if you do get relegated, it is an enormous knock for the football club - for the supporters, financially and for everything that surrounds it. So it is a big, big game for Wigan and we understand that.

"It is game with a lot riding on it.

"But it is important not just for the fact that Wigan are trying to stay up and get something out of the game, but also because we have an opportunity to finish in the top 10, which is massive for us."


Stoke go into the contest having been beaten in their last two matches, both of which were against Manchester City - the 1-0 FA Cup final defeat a week ago and then a 3-0 loss at Eastlands in the league on Tuesday.

Overall, though, it has been an impressive season for the Potters, and one Pulis feels it is their duty - to their supporters and to the rest of the division - to try to round off in style.

"We have a responsibility to our fans and we also have a responsibility to every other club that is playing in the Premier League and are playing for something," said Pulis, whose team's cup run has earned them a place in next season's Europa League."

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is determined to repay Dave Whelan's faith by keeping the chairman's Premier League dream alive.

Whelan has strongly backed Martinez over the past two years and the Spaniard's job is not thought to be under threat even if Wigan are relegated.

Martinez said: "He represents everything we are at Wigan Athletic.

"Over the years he has always come up with the special decisions that have made the difference.

"We are all together here. We are here in a way to fulfil his dream and work with what he wanted to achieve.

"We are a very close football club, every department relies on the chairman.

"This is one of those games that will mean a lot more than just achieving something in the season.

"It is about allowing his footballing dream to carry on and making sure the chairman can be extremely proud of the people he has got in his football club."

Wigan will begin what is likely to be a day of high tension and drama 19th in the Barclays Premier League but just a point behind 15th-placed Blackburn.

The Latics have spent six years in the top flight after undergoing a remarkable transformation under Whelan's ownership.

The millionaire businessman, a former Blackburn player, bought the then fourth-tier outfit in 1995 and oversaw their move from Springfield Park to the ground now known as the DW Stadium.

His friendship with Martinez dates back to those early days in the mid-90s when the Spaniard arrived as a player.

They remain close now and Martinez, 37, said: "We always speak, he comes down to the training ground.

"He is a really inspirational figure - a great figure to have around the training ground and dressing room.

"He is a special man and the reason for a our dream of Wigan Athletic being in the Premier League.

"We need to make sure we don't let him down at the weekend."

Former Kilmarnock striker Conor Sammon is pushing for a start after coming off the bench to score in last week's dramatic 3-2 win over bottom side West Ham.

Martinez has no injury concerns.

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