Stoke braced for Europa tests

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Stoke City boss Tony Pulis will take care of his squad this season in the knowledge that the Europa League could take its toll on his players.

The Potters begin their group stage campaign with a daunting trip to Dynamo Kiev, the first of six matches in a group containing Besiktas and Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

And whilst the Potters boss has vowed to challenge during their away ties in Europe, the emphasis has clearly been placed on winning games at the Britannia Stadium to secure qualification.

"We've got a plan, and just like it was in our first season in the Premier League, it is to make sure we do well in our home games," the manager told the official Stoke City website.

"I think if we win our three matches here at this stage of the competition, then we'll qualify. That's the plan, but it doesn't mean that we won't go on these long, long trips and give it our best shot to try and pick up some points.

"I will still be taking a team that I consider strong enough to compete and give some of the other players in the squad who have not had the opportunities so far this season a chance to stake their claim for a place."

The draw was far from kind to the Potters, forcing the club to cover over 11,000 miles on their three trips across the continent.


Whilst Pulis would have been more than happy to make the shorter trips though, he's got no issue with travelling long distances to try and make a mark in the competition.

"We have certainly drawn the short straw when you think we could have been going to places like Paris and Madrid, but nevertheless we are still looking forward to what will be a fantastic experience," he continued.

"The important thing is that we manage the situation very carefully, and in this instance we will not be taking one or two players whose current condition would not make it ideal for them to be going on two long journeys.

"If all the players were fit, then they would all be desperate to go. But we have to think about the other matches coming up as well. It's not a bad run of games we've got, is it? After Liverpool, we have Dynamo Kiev, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and then Manchester United. It's what everybody aspires to."

Matthew Etherington, Marc Wilson and Rory Delap are all doubts for the clash, but Wilson Palacios and Cameron Jerome are both in contention following their deadline day moves.

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