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Pulis hopes Crouch relishes QPR return

Tony Pulis is hoping Peter Crouch walks tall on his return to Loftus Road on Saturday and helps haul Stoke City towards top-flight survival.

The striker's season has mirrored that of his club, with all six of his 2012-13 goals having come before the end of January - the month in which he was linked with a return to Queens Park Rangers.

Stoke have won only once since then and are in grave danger of suffering an end to their five-year stay back in the top flight.

But Pulis believes the England international's return to the club where he made his League debut 12 seasons ago could spark a much needed lift in Stoke's fortunes.

"All the players have a point to prove... that they can finish the season on a high," Pulis said. "But going back there could give Crouchy an edge.

"Sometimes it goes in your favour. Sometimes it doesn't. I always loved going back to old clubs. If we go with him in the side, I hope he puts in a top performance this weekend."

Crouch's impact has been considerably less since he suffered a nasty facial injury in the home victory over Newcastle at the end of November.

He was eased back via the substitutes' bench over the subsequent weeks and Pulis admits there was considerable anxiety over him fitness-wise, although the club stood firm and never intended to sell him in the transfer window.

"That injury to his mouth was a major concern," Pulis added. "He had some really serious work done and he had a dip in form afterwards. "He looked a real handful earlier in the season and hopefully he will be back to the player he was."

Stoke hope midfielder Matt Etherington, who has been absent with a back injury, and full-back Marc Wilson (hamstring) will be fit to return. A late decision will be made on both.

Proud Welshman Pulis is also delighted at the arrival of Cardiff in the top flight following several near misses and hopes his side will be around next season to face them.

"Dave Jones set the club up for someone to take them on," he added. "They just missed promotion a few times. I like Malky Mackay... he's a real good fella. I'm very pleased because it's another Welsh club up there and Cardiff v Swansea will be huge next season. Now I hope Newport or Wrexham get in the League."

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