Belfast Telegraph

Pulis defends team selection

Stoke manager Tony Pulis dismissed talk of vindication after his side ended a four-game losing run in the Barclays Premier League with a 2-0 win over Swansea at the Britannia Stadium.

Pulis was furious with the reaction to his decision to leave nine first-team players at home for the midweek trip to Valencia, where a 1-0 defeat sent them tumbling out of the Europa League. All those players were back in a starting line-up here that showed 11 changes, and first-half headers from Matthew Upson and Peter Crouch earned all three points.

"If there's a criticism levied at me, then it should be for the first team I picked against Valencia, because we didn't play well that night," said the Potters manager. "But the team that went to Valencia did smashing and created more chances and gave them a better game. My chairman was really pleased with the teams I picked in both games and he's the one I answer to."

He added: "We went there (Valencia) to have a go, but whichever way you do it you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, and that's football. I'm big enough to take it."

One thing Pulis did not argue with was the importance of putting an end to their poor run against Swansea, with Stoke in danger of being dragged into the scrap at the bottom of the table having spent most of the season in the top 10.

The result lifted them back above their opponents and into 12th place, and Pulis said: "It's very important we get the points on the board as quick as we can.

"It's a tough league and I don't care what anybody says, as soon as you start taking your foot off and think that you've got a right to be in this league, that's the time you've got to pack in and get out."

Swansea, who beat Stoke by the same scoreline in the reverse fixture in October, were dealt a blow before kick-off when keeper Michel Vorm was ruled out through illness. The Dutchman has been one of the Swans' star performers this season, and it was certainly not an easy game for Gerhard Tremmel to make his Premier League debut in.

Swans boss Brendan Rodgers said: "I thought Gerhard Tremmel dealt well with most of what he had to do. I thought some of our play was very good but we were disappointed with the two goals we conceded because we obviously know the threat that Stoke have.

"Their quality into the box is very good and they get people on the end of it. We're disappointed with the scoreline but performance-wise I thought there were a lot of good moments."

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