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Pulis: Stoke never feared Crouch exit

Tony Pulis has cleared up speculation surrounding Stoke City's transfer deadline week issues, insisting the club were never close to losing Peter Crouch, while revealing Swansea's interest in Kenwyne Jones never came to fruition.

Crouch, who forced his way strongly back into the England reckoning with his fine start to the season, was hotly linked with a January move back to QPR, the club with whom he made his League debut in August, 2000.

"It was an on-going thing, although I never thought it would happen," Pulis said. "He was adamant he wanted to stay at the club. They (he and his family) are settled in the Manchester area and I didn't think there was any chance he would go. But you get a bit worried because you know QPR have money to burn."

Jones was rumoured for several weeks to be interesting the Swans, especially with the long-expected sale of Danny Graham - a link that eventually took the north-easterner to Sunderland.

There was also a less likely connection between Jones and Aston Villa amid talk of a part-swap with Darren Bent, but Pulis's phone remained cold.

"I never had a call from Swansea," he said. "The enquiry we had was two to three weeks before the deadline."

Jones has kept Crouch out of Stoke's line-up on occasions in mid-season and has out-scored him in the winter months, with the England international going without a goal since September until popping up with one against Wigan a week and a half ago.

That took him to six for the season, one clear of the Trinidad and Tobago star, who hopes to shrug off any jet lag after his midweek international travels in time to face Reading at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

Michael Owen will also be available after escaping punishment for his uncharacteristic retaliatory swing at Mikel Arteta during last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Arsenal.

The Reading fixture rekindles memories for Pulis, who recalls the 1-0 home victory over the same opponents on the last day of 2002-03, when a different combination of results could have sent his side down to the third tier.

"The Icelandic people who were in charge then would have pulled back and all sorts of things could have happened," he said. "That's one of the defining days in the club's history. If we had gone down, we wouldn't be where we are now. The worry was what they (the owners) might have done afterwards. They were good people but they might have walked away."


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