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Stoke looking for revenge

last updated Friday 21st January 2011, 11:07 AM
ALL eyes and cameras will be trained on the historic handshake between Tony Pulis and Mark Hughes tomorrow.

Not since Wayne Bridge snubbed John Terry in a pre-match face-to-face has a footballing handshake been so keenly anticipated.

It's effectively round three at Craven Cottage tomorrow afternoon after Hughes first snubbed Pulis up the wrong way by barely shaking his hand at the end of a Carling Cup tie in September following Andy Wilkinson's late tackle on Moussa Dembele.

And Pulis, not one to let such insults go unpunished, duly returned the compliment by hardly making contact with Hughes and his outstretched hand after last month's league clash.

<br/><br/>But while the rest of us will be distracted by the two Welshmen, City assistant boss Dave Kemp, pictured below, will remain typically indifferent towards tomorrow's sub-plot.

"It's just a sideshow as far as I'm concerned," he grumbled.

"I've no idea what their personal relationship is like and I don't really care as long as we get the three points."

And those three points will go a long way, he says, towards making amends for that 2-0 home defeat to Fulham last month.

"Yes, we want revenge for that," Kemp acknowledged.

"We didn't start that game as quickly as we'd have liked, but we put it right a few days later against Everton, and we must make sure we're on our toes on Saturday.

"They've changed their manager since last season and that can have an effect, but they're obviously a good team.

"They're probably only one or two wins away from shooting up the league, and we've got to make sure that doesn't start this Saturday."

Stoke's team virtually picks itself after 10 of last weekend's starters were left at home for Tuesday's FA Cup mission in Cardiff.

They include Tuncay, fresh from his man-of-the-match display against Bolton six days ago, and Kemp is delighted to see the Turkish international break through on the back of a rare run in the side.

"I don't think anybody is surprised because he's such a talented player," said Kemp.

"In the old days a squad was 14 or 15 players, but now it's 25. They'd all like to be playing, but that's not the case for the majority."

That squad was utilised to the full at Cardiff, and Kemp says the changes were justified.

"We could have done without the replay, but we put in a good performance to get through.

"People talk about the selection we made, but we had to play extra-time and the players we put out were fresh that night.

"There's travelling involved as well. We didn't get back until 2.30 on Wednesday morning and we've got to travel again to Fulham. And there's more to come in the next few weeks.

"Also, the more games you play, the more chance there is of injuries and bookings."

Sadly for Danny Higginbotham, the one player to start both the Bolton and Cardiff games, he picked up a hamstring tear in South Wales and seems certain to be out tomorrow after threatening to re-establish himself in the starting 11.

Meanwhile, Kemp has ruled out a second move for TSG Hoffenheim striker Demba Ba - at least in the short-term - after he failed a medical on his knee last week.

"He isn't fit to play right now and we want players who can play, but that's not to say the deal couldn't be resurrected in the future."

Source michael baggaley at stoke city
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