Pulis expecting tough Villa clash

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Stoke boss Tony Pulis has no illusions about the task facing his relegation-battling side at Aston Villa this weekend.

Villa boss Martin O'Neill rested eight key players on Thursday for their UEFA Cup defeat to CSKA Moscow and Pulis said: "I almost felt like ringing Martin to complain about that!"

"But he knows what he wants for his club and he has handled his squad accordingly."

He added: "I suppose that the pot of gold which comes from qualifying for the Champions League is all important to a club like Villa. I am not surprised by what he did.

"But it means that they will be coming at us with all guns blazing now on Sunday, I have no doubts about that.

"Finishing in the top four for them is all important and they will have all their big name players back for our game.

"In some ways it is interesting that he (O'Neill) pays us that much respect because he wants to win this one and get his club into Europe's elite."

Pulis will at least have key striker Mamady Sidibe back at Villa Park after being out for more than two months with a knee injury. Sidibe made his long-awaited return in last week's 2-2 draw with Portsmouth, lasting an hour, and is looking forward to facing Villa again.

"I scored my first Premier League goal against them at the beginning of the season and that was Stoke's first win of the campaign," he said.

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Mamady Sidibe
Stoke City
Premier League
Aston Villa

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