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Dec, 27, 2012

Pulis: City still in title race

Tony Pulis rates Manchester City as one of the best teams in Europe and believes they will fight Sir Alex Ferguson's United side all the way for the Premier League title.

Despite their horrendous performance in failing to make it out of their Champions League group and the seven-point deficit they have to make up on Manchester United, Pulis reckons the reigning champions have what it takes to retain their crown.

The Stoke boss will take his side to the City of Manchester Stadium harbouring his own dreams of getting back into European competition next season, but he is under no illusions about the size of the task facing his side.

City have been dismissed as too erratic as they face up to the difficult challenge of depriving Ferguson of the title for a second successive season, but Pulis refuses to write them off, even though he would love to get under the skin of Roberto Mancini again.

Mancini labelled Stoke a basketball team for the goal Peter Crouch scored against them at the Britannia earlier in the season, but Pulis holds no grudges and said: "They are for me one of the top teams in Europe, never mind Britain.

"I watched them the other week when they had the morning kick off against Newcastle and won and I thought they played ever so well, the first 20-25 minutes is as good as I have seen a team play.

"They move the ball around. They have got fantastic players. They are a good team, a top, top team and it will be difficult for us.

"Man City is a bonus game for us. Their resources, it is a fantastic stadium and fantastic players and there has to be a hell of a lot of things go well for us.

"And there has to be a hell of a lot go wrong for them for us to get a result there, but we will go there with the same spirit and commitment and attitude."

Pulis still has to decide whether to call upon Charlie Adam, following the death of his 50-year-old father, Charlie senior over two weeks ago.

Adam has not been included in the team since after being given compassionate leave, but Pulis, who wants to freshen up his side, is ready to integrate the former Liverpool midfielder back into his plans.

Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron return after suspensions ruled them out of the 3-3 draw with Southampton and Adam may be handed a place on the substitutes bench, if he wants to be involved.

"It's very, very difficult to gauge how individuals react to losing their parents but the good thing about the place is that the players are so close to each other," he said.

"They are a good group of players. Him being around, even sitting on the bench for a couple of games, just to be a part of it, helps take his mind off things.

"One or two players looked tired today against Southampton. Ryan comes back into the squad and Geoff comes back into the squad, they have had a break. We will make three or four changes to the team that started."

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