Pre-Wembley tests upset Pulis

The Potters’ preparations for the Wembley showdown with Manchester

City were interrupted by the unscheduled request last Friday. They

went on to lose the game 1-0 and Pulis was left fuming having

discovered that City had not been required to take part in a

similar test in the build-up to the match. “We were told we were

the only team that they did it on, which I thought was pretty

disappointing,” Pulis said. “When you think it is a final of a blue

riband tournament, to have people turning up the day before and

only to one team – and they also did us after the game. “It is a

random drug test, they say. That was really random, picking on us

twice in two days.” It is standard procedure for the FA to carry

out random drug tests on players without giving clubs any notice.

Independent sampling officers from UK Anti-Doping are accompanied

by an FA supervising officer, who is either a doctor or

physiotherapist approved by the FA. Asked if he would be making an

official complaint to the FA about the matter, Pulis said: “I’ve

got to be very careful what I say about anybody, never mind the FA,

just in case I get fined. “We were really disappointed with it –

for me, it was a bad, bad call. But like I said, I have to be very

careful of sometimes speaking the truth.” Earlier this week Pulis

was warned by the FA as to his future conduct following comments he

made about referee Howard Webb. The 53-year-old fell foul of new

rules stipulating managers should not speak about match officials

prior to a game, having praised the appointment of Webb for the

Potters’ FA Cup semi-final against Bolton last month. It has not

been the best few days for Pulis, with Stoke also losing 3-0 to

City in the Barclays Premier League on Tuesday night. Overall,

though, his team have had a hugely impressive season. Their cup run

earned the Staffordshire outfit a place in next season’s Europa

League and they go into Sunday’s final league fixture against Wigan

at the Britannia Stadium lying ninth in the table, on course for

their highest finish since being promoted to the top-flight in

2008. “The two trips to Wembley (for the semi-final and final) were

fantastic and the fact that we have got into Europe is also an

unbelievable achievement for the football club,” Pulis said. “But

the greatest achievement is that that we are going to have our

fourth consecutive year in the Premier League. These are fantastic

times.” Pulis will assess the fitness of key men Matthew

Etherington (hamstring), Jermaine Pennant (ankle) and Robert Huth

(knee), all of whom played against City in the final last Saturday

but missed the league encounter three days later. Striker Kenwyne

Jones and goalkeeper Asmir Begovic may come back into the side

after they were rested in midweek.