Pulis sees the bigger picture

March 12, 2011

The Potters will play at the new national stadium for the first time if they defeat the Hammers to book a place in the FA Cup semi-finals. It is an exciting prospect for the Staffordshire outfit, who have not reached the last four of the competition for 39 years. However, Pulis is also mindful of what a victory could mean for Stoke's fortunes over the next few weeks in the Barclays Premier League, where they have taken just one point from their past four games. He said: "It would be wonderful if we get through to the semi-finals, but because of the way the season has gone for us recently, it is a big, big game in other respects. "The Premier League remains the priority and a win on Sunday would be a massive boost to our confidence going into the important matches that are coming up." As well as the tie at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke have nine league fixtures left to play and are only three points above the relegation zone. West Ham have been near or at the bottom of the table for most of the campaign, but are currently unbeaten in four games in all competitions and have won their last three. The latest of those was a 3-0 triumph in the league against the Potters last weekend at Upton Park, a match which left Pulis under no illusions about the task facing his side on Sunday. "We got beaten at West Ham on Saturday and well beaten in the end, so it will be a difficult game," Pulis said. "You look at their team and the players they have got - Robert Green, who has played for England, and Wayne Bridge and Matthew Upson in the back-four who have done as well. "You've got Scott Parker and Carlton Cole who are England internationals, then Thomas Hitzlsperger and the three forwards. "It is amazing West Ham have not done better than they have done, but they have just hit form at the right time, so we know it will be a tough game for us." Pulis has confirmed that goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen will play on Sunday, stepping in for first-choice stopper Asmir Begovic as he has done for the previous rounds. Matthew Etherington, who came on as a substitute in last weekend's encounter, appears to be fully recovered from his recent back problems so is in contention to start this time against his old club, but fellow winger Jermaine Pennant has a knee complaint and will be assessed ahead of the game.