Stoke City: Tony Pulis dives in to tip Liverpool star Luis Suarez for players' award
THE two words nearly burnt a hole in his tongue when he uttered them, but Tony Pulis couldn't avoid tipping Luis Suarez for player-of-the-year.
The Liverpool striker has been a mixture of brilliant goalscorer and embarrassing diver in his various encounters with Stoke over the past two years.
But that didn't stop Pulis throwing his name into the ring for what he thinks will be a three-horse race as voting gets underway for the players' player-of-the-year trophy.
"Gareth Bale, he certainly comes into it," said Pulis, "and obviously there is (Robin) van Persie at United.
"I think Suarez, for all the problems we've had with him, is still a wonderful player.
"Off the top of my head, these three would certainly come into it."
Bale's latest exploits came at the expense of tomorrow's opposition, of course, after he netted twice in Tottenham's 3-2 win at West Ham on Monday evening.
Pulis was studying West Ham ahead of tomorrow's clash, but couldn't avoid salivating at his fellow Welshman's latest brilliance.
"We're pleased we aren't facing him at the moment," he joked. "Everything he touches seems to turn to gold at the moment, so it's nice we are avoiding him right now."
Bale is being favourably compared with Ryan Giggs in his pomp, but he has some way to go before he can emulate his compatriot's likely completion of 1,000 senior games this weekend.
Pulis recalls: "We went to watch Wales under-18s against England under-18s, or it might have been 16s, at Yeovil. Ryan played in that game and was absolutely outstanding.
"To achieve what he has, you've got to be a certain character and a special personality, never mind all that natural ability he's been born and blessed with too.
"You have to have motivation to keep going for as long as he has, and it certainly helps to be with one of the great clubs in world football."
STRIKER John Marsden has joined Stoke from North West Counties League outfit Stockport Sports.
The 19-year-old is back in the professional game after earlier spells with Wigan and Celtic.
Marsden, whose 21 goals in 31 games this season included four against Norton United, recently played on trial for Stoke in their under-21s side and in a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Marsden said: "I am relishing the chance to once again train and play with and against the high calibre players such a move offers, and I intend to continue to work extremely hard on all areas of my game."
Stockport chairman John Hindley added: "John has been an absolute pleasure to have at this club. He came here following his release by Celtic and has worked so hard to get back into the professional game.
"His attitude and effort have been first class and he deserves everything that he gets out of the game."