Stoke City: 'New' Wilson Palacios can star for Stoke, says boss Tony Pulis
WILSON Palacios has been told he can be like a new signing for Stoke City if he returns fit and firing for the new Premier League campaign.
The 27-year-old midfielder was a major disappointment during his first campaign after failing to find consistent form or fitness.
But the Honduras international has now been sent away for his close-season break armed with a personal training programme.
And then boss Tony Pulis aims to put Palacios through his paces during pre-season training so he can recapture the form that persuaded Tottenham to pay Wigan £12m for him in January 2009.
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"He missed pre-season with us last year," said Pulis, "and went about five-and-a-half months in all without playing because of his knee injury.
"That kind of time out of the game takes its toll, particularly missing pre-season, so he found it very difficult to come straight into a new club and perform to the level he can.
"It's so important he does a good pre-season with us so he's on the starting line with everybody else at the beginning of next season."
Palacios, who joined Stoke from Tottenham in a £6m deal at the end of last year's summer transfer window, featured in just under half of Stoke's Premier League campaign after starting nine matches and appearing in nine more from the bench.
Pulis continued: "There is no doubt he's a good player, that's why Tottenham paid so much for him three years ago.
"If he can recapture his best form, and that's what everyone at Stoke will be hoping, then you could say it would seem like having a new signing in the camp.
"We are certainly doing everything we can fitness-wise to help him."
Palacios is likely to face a week's hard training, possibly at a foreign location, soon after he and the other Stoke players report back from their summer break on July 12.
There then follows the club's trip to America between July 22 and August 2 for friendlies in Columbus, Orlando and Kansas.
Meanwhile, giant youth-team goalkeeper Dale Eve has agreed a two-year professional contract after impressing in a first year at Stoke which also saw him make his senior debut for Bermuda.
The 17-year-old said: "I've come a long way, especially from when I left Bermuda. I was a bit raw and I was going (to Stoke) on basic talent as I hadn't had coaching.
"At the beginning of the season I never used to talk, but now they can't get me to shut up."
Eve will be among those players likely to be lining up in a pre-season friendly arranged at non-league Corby Town for Monday, July 23 (7.30pm).