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Wilson has eye on European spot


Stoke defender Marc Wilson will have one eye on Europe next season

Stoke defender Marc Wilson will have one eye on Europe next season

Stoke defender Marc Wilson will have one eye on Europe next season

Marc Wilson will head into next season with European qualification on his mind after helping Stoke to a second successive top-10 finish.

The 27-year-old Republic of Ireland defender is hoping to sign off the current campaign with a Euro 2016 qualifying victory over Group D rivals Scotland in Dublin next weekend, but after his summer break he has lofty aims on the club front too.

Asked if the Potters would have Europe in their sights when they get back down to Barclays Premier League business in August, Wilson said: "To be honest, I think that's what the chairman's aim is going to be this year. He is going to try to push.

"Hopefully, we sign a few more players who can give us that extra push because we are not that far off it at this moment in time with the team we have got.

"We had a lot of injuries this year, a lot of bad injuries. Before, our injury record I think was up there with the best in the league, and this year it's gone right down there with the worst.

"We struggled with injuries this year but we still managed to have a good season."

Stoke have won admirers with the brand of football they have played under current manager Mark Hughes, and it has proved hugely effective as they have built steadily on the work they did during Tony Pulis' time at the Britannia Stadium to finish ninth two years on the trot.

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Wilson has spent the last five years with the club and has witnessed its development at close quarters.

He said: "Stoke have had two terrific seasons the last two years finishing ninth, and each year we have achieved better points. Last year, we finished on 50 points with a minus goal difference; this year, we finished on 54 points with a positive goal difference.

"There are just little targets that the manager sets us at the beginning of each season and our target was to do better than we did the year before, and that's what we did."

In the meantime, Wilson is concentrating purely on Ireland and Thursday's behind-closed-doors friendly against Northern Ireland before England head for Dublin on Sunday.

Those two games are being used by manager Martin O'Neill as the perfect build-up for next Saturday's clash with the Scots at the Aviva Stadium, but the Stoke man is confident all three will be fiercely contested.

He said: "All the games we have got now are important games. There's big rivalry between all the teams - Northern Ireland, even England - and they'll be tough games. They are games we want to do well in."

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