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Mar 13, 2013

Wilkinson calls for unity from fans

Andy Wilkinson has urged Stoke City supporters not to desert the team in protest against manager Tony Pulis.

• Butland calls for Stoke response

Fears are growing at the Britannia Stadium that the club's recent poor run of just one win in their last ten Premier League games will have a damaging effect on season ticket sales for next season.

Increasing numbers of Stoke fans are unhappy with the perceived lack of progress under Pulis and want to see an end to his seven-year stint in charge at the club.

Stoke have been set a target of becoming self-sufficient in the next couple of years by chairman Peter Coates and much of that will depend on matching last season's 22,000 season ticket sales.

But the atmosphere at the Britannia has turned against Pulis in recent weeks and could turn hostile again during this weekend's meeting with West Bromwich Albion, which Wilkinson fears will have a damaging effect on the side as they look to arrest the slide and reach the 40-point safety mark set by Pulis.

Speaking of the fans' frustration, Wilkinson said: "It's understandable, but if we can get a win on Saturday against West Brom we can push on and get a good finish to the season. We need to stick together, work together and get the fortress back at the Britannia. The fans are a massive part of that."

Wilkinson admitted the players need lifting after the morale-sapping late winner they conceded against Newcastle United on Sunday, adding: "There's no worse feeling, especially in the last minute, and we were all devastated."

Wilkinson acknowledged that manager Tony Pulis could be in the firing line with disgruntled fans, but insisted the players had to shoulder their share of blame for recent results.

"We are the ones who are on the pitch. He cannot play for us, so we are the ones who have to take responsibility."

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