Stoke City: Begovic aims for grand finale by halting Blues
ASMIR Begovic hasn't given up hope of finishing the season in goal for Stoke City – but will reluctantly understand if tonight is his last game of the campaign.
Pulis revealed last week that he plans to play Thomas Sorensen, pictured below, for City's last two games of the season, at QPR and at home to Bolton, to give the Dane some match action before next month's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
That leaves Begovic to try to finish his own campaign with a clean sheet against Everton.
The game will be the Bosnian international's 31st of the season, but as you'd expect of a fierce competitor, he hasn't completely abandoned hope of making it 33.
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"We'll see what happens, and keep you guys guessing," he said, "but of course I would love to play. We have some great games left.
"But if Thomas plays, then I accept that too. He has a big tournament in the summer and so all the best to him with that."
Begovic did his cause no harm in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Arsenal.
He had no chance with Robin van Persie's 15th-minute equaliser but had already made a superb stop to keep out van Persie's header at his near post.
The keeper says Stoke's standards will have to be just as high tonight against an Everton side who walloped Fulham 4-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday.
In fact, Everton are second top of the Premier League form table with four wins and two draws from their last six matches.
Their form is all the more impressive because they suffered the hammer blow of losing an FA Cup semi-final to neighbours Liverpool at Wembley on April 14.
Some thought that would be the end of their season, but Everton responded with a 4-4 draw at Manchester United and then hammering Fulham.
Begovic said David Moyes's side deserve plenty of plaudits.
He said: "You have to give credit to them. But they have a good side and they are a good bunch of professionals with a good attitude.
"No matter what happens to them, you know you are always going to get a tough game when you play them.
"Their manager should also get some credit. and we know we are in for a tough game tonight.
"They are flying at the moment so we know we need our best game."
City's draw with the Gunners kept them in 14th, still just three points behind 10th-placed West Brom.
The Baggies' goal difference is 10 better than Stoke's, but City play their game in hand tonight hoping to close the gap.
The Potters have made no bones about their determination to finish in the top 10 for the first time in the Premier League, particularly as they only missed out on the last day of last season when they lost 1-0 at home to Wigan.
Begovic added: "That's the main aim, but first things first – we have secured our status for next season which is very important.
"If we could finish in the top 10 this time it would be fantastic. We have to aim high and we will keep fighting for that.
"The season has been great so far and some of the performances, especially at home, and even away, have been fantastic.
"We just want to finish high and maybe take momentum into next season again."
In theory at least, tonight could be the most low-key of Stoke's remaining three games.
After all, QPR will be desperate for victory against Stoke at Loftus Road on Sunday.
They are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference from Bolton, who have a game in hand.
The Trotters themselves are likely to need a result when they visit the Britannia Stadium for the last game of the season.
However, Begovic doesn't expect tonight's game to be any less intense than those to follow.
He said: "You can't take your foot off the pedal.
"Every game has a big meaning in the Premier League and this one should be a cracker too."