Etherington deserves credit – Pulis

The winger joined from West Ham in January 2009 and admitted months

later that he had accrued gambling debts of around

£1.5million. But Etherington has been steered away from

problems off the field and his performances have been telling, with

Stoke seeing the one-time teenage sensation fulfil the potential he

was always reckoned to have. The player’s own family have been a

major factor behind the upturn in fortunes, but Pulis also believes

Stoke’s owners, headed by chairman Peter Coates, deserve credit for

bringing the best out of the 29-year-old former Tottenham and

Peterborough man. “He’s been a quality player and very, very good

for us,” Pulis said. “He’s got his life sorted out off the pitch,

and you’ve got to give the Coates family great, great credit for

getting involved with that and as a football club giving him the

help he needed. “I think Matty will always appreciate what this

football club has done for him off the field. “We’ve cleared

everything out of the way so he can see clearly in respect of his

life. “Matty’s a professional footballer and we’ve allowed him to

concentrate on that which has born fruit for us as a team and as a

football club. “I think if Matty was playing now for, say,

Tottenham or one of the top teams in the country then he would

definitely get recognition.” But Pulis will not be pressing England

boss Capello to summon the Potters wideman for next month’s Wembley

friendly against France, or the rest of the Euro 2012 qualifying

campaign. The Italian could already have had his head turned by

Etherington, but a call-up at this stage of his career may be a

long shot, particularly given England have Stewart Downing and Adam

Johnson as left-footed wing options. Pulis said: “I’m not picking

Capello’s team. He’s a great manager with a great career and I’m

sure he’ll qualify for the European Nations Cup with or without

Matty.” Etherington is expected to be fit after a back problem,

which forced him to miss the Carling Cup defeat at West Ham, to

line up tomorrow for Stoke at Everton. Like Stoke, the Barclays

Premier League table shows Everton are in mid-table, but just one

point separates both teams from third-bottom Liverpool, so tight is

the division in its early stages. Pulis sees Everton as the epitome

of what any club looking to establish themselves in the Premier

League should aim for. “Really they’re a model for so-called

smaller clubs to follow,” Pulis said. “What the chairman has done

there and what David (Moyes) has done there is something to look at

really seriously and say, well that’s the way to build a football

club. “They’ve been very, very successful over the years, they’ve

had loads of stability. It’s built on a very solid foundation.

“David seems very very happy there, very contented. It seems to be

a football club in the respect that everyone pulls together. “I

think it’s something Peter Coates and family at this football club

aspire to in lots of respects. “All the basics that we talk about

really represents the way Everton football club is run. “It’s a

stable ship and they’ve improved every year. They’ve got a good

squad and they’ll end up being in the top six or seven by the time

the season finishes, I have absolutely no doubt about that.” Stoke

are coming off three straight defeats – two in the Premier League

against Bolton and Manchester United, and the midweek cup setback

at Upton Park. Stoke have had a foothold in each match, only to

concede costly late goals, and Pulis wants his team to sharpen up.

“Football-wise and the way the team’s shaping up I think we’re a

better team than we were last year,” he said. “We’re coming close

in games and then for whatever reason we’re getting punished. “The

Premier League is such a tough league to play in, you’re playing

against top players coached by top people, and if you don’t

concentrate for 94 minutes, 93 minutes or whatever, you get

punished.”