Pulis: Squad must embrace Euro test
Stoke boss Tony Pulis wants his players to embrace the occasion on Thursday night when they take on Hajduk Split in the raucous Stadion Poljud.
The Potters go into the Europa League third qualifying round second leg holding a narrow 1-0 advantage over their Croatian opponents, who are expected to be roared on by more than 30,000 supporters, and much could depend on how Stoke handle the atmosphere.
But Pulis has urged his side to show no fear, and said: "We've played at big stadiums for the past three years, and some of them can be pretty hostile, the big thing for us is that it is a new adventure and I don't think we should treat it in any other way. We should embrace tomorrow [Thursday], not come here with any worries, and do our best."
He continued: "If our best is good enough, then brilliant and if it's not, so be it. But we must make sure we come here with no inhibitions whatsoever.
"For a lot of them it will be a new experience, so it will be interesting to see how they react, but they are in good spirits and I think they are looking forward to it.
"Hajduk are a decent side and very good at home, so they know there is a challenge there - it is just about embracing that challenge."
Pulis believes the weight of expectation is on seasoned European campaigners Hajduk rather than his own team.
"I don't think there is any pressure on us at all," he said. "The pressure is really on them - I think they were favourites to win the tie and everybody here thinks they will just turn up and beat us."
Hajduk coach Krasimir Balakov has promised the hosts will be firmly on the offensive, although he admits with the tie so finely poised, his attacking strategy could be something of a gamble.
"It is a struggle that awaits us and it will be risky, but there is no other solution for us," Balakov told www.hajduk.hr. "I have asked the players to take risks when they have the ball, demonstrate their creativity, and not to be held back by showing too much respect for their opponents."