Stoke V QPR at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview
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Stoke manager Tony Pulis is ready to knock back a drink or two with fellow Welshman Mark Hughes to finally draw a line under their feud.
The duo initially fell out in September 2010 when Hughes, then boss of Fulham, refused to shake Pulis' hand following a Carling Cup tie which Stoke won 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium.
Hughes was aggrieved at what he saw as an "unnecessary" challenge from Andy Wilkinson on Mousa Dembele late in the game.
Three months later, Pulis spurned Hughes' offer of a handshake after Fulham won 2-0 in the league at the Britannia.
The two men did finally come to their senses in early 2011, when Fulham again defeated Stoke 2-0 in the return league clash at Craven Cottage.
At the end of last season Hughes, by now in charge of QPR, asked Pulis to stay for a drink, but given Rangers had beaten Stoke with a late winner in what was their final home game to aid their relegation cause, the latter thought better of it.
However, Pulis will have no qualms in extending an invitation to Hughes following the league game at the Britannia.
"We had a little bit of a spat. It was two Celts having a spat and there's nothing wrong with that," Pulis said.
"There will be absolutely no problems tomorrow (Saturday). I think Mark will be more concerned about getting QPR sorted out, and me the same with my team, than anything between us.
"But you have your moments in sport. We're both competitive people.
"He did invite me for a drink down at QPR last season, and he'll be invited up for a drink following this game. That's the way it is."
Asked whether he took up the offer in May, Pulis added: "No I didn't because they got the points to help them stay up, and it was chaos there afterwards
"It was also in London, close to Bournemouth (where Pulis lives), so I shot off straight after the game."
Pulis will be without winger Rory Delap, who faces a hernia operation next week, while striker Michael Owen is again sidelined with a hamstring problem.
Meanwhile, Hughes is confident Adel Taarabt will stay at QPR in January after admitting the Moroccan will be key to the club's chances of staying in the Barclays Premier League.
Taarabt has been one this season's rare successes at the west London club, who are looking to win their first game of the season at the 11th attempt.
After joining the Rs permanently in 2010 Taarabt was a huge success, scoring 19 goals and providing countless assists to help the club earn promotion to the Premier League.
He found life hard in the top flight last season, though, with rumours of indiscipline off the pitch and poor form on it leading many to claim the 23-year-old was unable to cut it at the highest level.
Hughes seems to have got the best out of the former Tottenham man since, however. His form has led to suggestions Arsenal may move for the player, but Hughes insists Taarabt is happy at Rangers.
"It wouldn't surprise me if clubs were looking at him but I know for a fact that he is very happy here and he sees his future here," Hughes said.
"This is the best place for him because we support him, we give him the best chance to be successful, and he understands that."
Taarabt has missed a large chunk of QPR's season thanks to a hamstring injury, but he is now fully fit and has impressed Hughes since he returned to the Rangers starting XI almost three weeks ago.
Stephane Mbia serves the second of a three-match suspension.
QPR captain Park Ji-sung missed last weekend's draw against Reading with a knee injury and is also a major doubt for the Potters clash.
Fabio (hamstring) and Andrew Johnson (knee) remain sidelined, but Hughes hopes to have the former fit for QPR's following game against Southampton.
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