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Feb 8, 2013

Pulis: 'Enormous' bid needed for Begovic

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis has said only a huge bid would prise Asmir Begovic away from the club, despite what he described as the "unbelievable" signing of Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland.

Butland's deadline-day arrival in the Potteries increased speculation that interest in 25-year-old Begovic, Stoke's first-choice keeper, could lead to firm offers from several clubs over the coming months.

Earlier this week, Begovic was quoted as saying he assumed that he would be sold in the summer, despite Butland being loaned back to Birmingham for the remainder of this season.

But Pulis said he wanted to keep both players and would be prepared to send Butland out on loan again next season if necessary.

"I think the Butland deal is fantastic, having spoken to a lot of people - they think he's going to be a top keeper," the manager added. "There has been a lot of talk about Asmir, but no-one from Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal has rung me about him.

"There was no thought of bringing Jack in just in case Asmir goes. It was an opportunity to sign a top, top keeper.

"If, this time next year, we still have three keepers, he will be loaned out again. He will do pre-season with us and we will take it from there. He has great ambition, and that's what we want from our players.

"If Manchester United or someone else came in and offered an enormous amount of money for Asmir, we would have to think about it. But I haven't brought Butland in for that reason."

Pulis, who also still has Thomas Sorensen among his goalkeeping options, said he was looking forward to working with Butland, who is 20 next month and in August became the youngest goalkeeper ever to win an England cap.

"It was just a great deal - unbelievable," he added. "Loads of people were prepared to give me decent references on the lad. He still has to do it, but we think we have, potentially, a fantastic deal."

Another recent Stoke capture, United States international Brek Shea, is unlikely to figure in Saturday's Premier League game at home to Reading after having had to go back to America to resolve visa issues.

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