Potters boss hails United academy
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has paid tribute to the Manchester United academy which provided him with his current captain Ryan Shawcross. Shawcross, who came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford before joining the Potters on loan and then on a permanent basis in the 2007-2008 campaign, faces his old club on Sunday as the skipper of a Premier League side and with last season's call-up to the England squad to his name. The 23-year-old is one of several Stoke players who were on United's books at a young age and Pulis feels the quality of their development there has been clear to see. "Ryan will enjoy it because he is playing in the Premier League, he is playing for a good club and he will be playing against a great club - and the club that gave him his start," Pulis said. "I have to say, you look at the players we have taken who were at Manchester United as young players, and their attitudes are absolutely fantastic. "We've got Danny Pugh, Danny Higginbotham and Shawcross and they are absolutely great lads - it is testament to the way Manchester United bring their kids up." Although they have pulled off plenty of impressive results in the top flight since their promotion from the Championship just over two years ago, Stoke are yet to earn a point from four encounters with United. They go into tomorrow's clash at the Britannia Stadium having failed to score a single goal in any of those games while shipping 12, and Pulis is hoping his side's luck is about to change. "The two clubs that we have really not managed to break into have been Chelsea and Manchester United, and over the last two and a half years they have been the leaders in our league," Pulis said. "It would be nice if we could do it on Sunday, but I certainly won't be taking anything for granted. We are going to have to have the maximum from everyone - we won't be able to carry a single player. "I think we have been closer to Chelsea than we have Manchester United - we just haven't had that little bit of luck, so fingers crossed on Sunday we will get it." One thing Pulis is sure of is the vociferous support his team will get from the Stoke fans. "Our football club looks forward to all the big games," Pulis said. "It's one of the special occasions, one of the special games on our calendar. "Every time we play these clubs - Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, the big clubs in the league - then this place rocks, and it will rock on Sunday. "It will be a fantastic atmosphere, and we'll give it our best shot." Stoke striker Ricardo Fuller will undergo a late fitness test to see if he can play any part. Fuller has had problems with a recurring shoulder injury and was rushed to hospital during the 2-1 defeat at Bolton last weekend following an awkward fall. Aside from long-term absentee Mamady Sidibe, Pulis has no other injury concerns, but may give a chance to goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after Thomas Sorensen made an error at the Reebok Stadium in the build-up to the hosts' late winner. Dean Whitehead picked up his fifth booking of the season in that match and so misses out through suspension.
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