Stoke City v Crystal Palace: Jon Walters in right frame of mind for cup replay, says Tony Pulis
TONY Pulis has declared Jon Walters psychologically ship-shape and mentally fit to play in tonight's FA Cup third-round replay against Crystal Palace.
Pulis says Walters has the mental strength to brush aside the trauma of scoring two own goals and missing a penalty during Saturday's 4-0 Premier League defeat by Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium.
And the Stoke manager is convinced Walters will grab the ball to try to take the next penalty coming the Potters' way.
"I haven't got any worries about the state of Jon's mind," said Pulis.
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"Not only he is strong, but he saw and heard on Saturday what people round here think of him.
"One of the greatest things for me was the way our supporters backed Jon in the last quarter-of-an-hour, then even after the penalty miss they were still singing his name.
"Jon has earned that kind of support over the last couple of years, but it was still as good a performance as our crowd has put in."
Not that Pulis is guaranteeing Walters a starting place tonight (7.45pm) as he contemplates changes.
"If he doesn't play, it will not be because of what happened on Saturday, that's for sure," said the Stoke boss.
"There will be a few changes, but certainly not wholesale changes, and the team I put out will be one to try and win the game."
Pulis is concerned that his players will be affected by the atmosphere of a half-empty stadium after becoming accustomed to playing in front of full houses home and away in the Premier League.
"It is a concern because it will be something different that the players will have to get used to," he acknowledged.
"I just hope those fans who do come will make enough noise for two people so that it sounds like a full house.
"But the players also know they have to give our fans something to shout about at the same time and that will be our aim."
Thomas Sorensen is set to return in goal following his fine showing in the 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park 10 days ago, but Michael Owen may have to settle for a place on the bench after making his full debut in south London.
Ian Holloway's Palace come into the game on the back of a 1-0 loss at Burnley – only their second defeat in 10 games – and are expected to include 22-goal Glenn Murray after he missed the first meeting with Stoke.
Pulis added: "They showed down there what a good team they are.
"They will see this game as an opportunity to put one over on us and we have got to be ready for that."
Tonight's winners host Manchester City in a televised clash on Saturday, January 26.
TICKETS for this evening's game are priced at £20 for adults, £10 for over-65s and £5 for under-17s.