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St. Kitts and Nevis
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Pulis ignoring Stoke speculation

Tony Pulis is still feeling the pressure at Stoke City - but his players have rediscovered their own self-belief in time to spare his Premier League embarrassment.

• Possible Pulis replacements

Pulis is still believed to be considering his future at the Britannia Stadium beyond the end of this campaign - but has refused to become publicly embroiled in the behind-the-scenes political issues at the club.

He has deliberately stepped back from commenting on his own situation to focus on guiding his struggling side to the 40-point mark which should confirm a sixth season in the top flight for the club.

Whether he will be in charge for that campaign remains to be seen. The 55-year-old retains a strong bond with chairman and owner Peter Coates, but could still walk away in the summer because of reservations over several issues at the club.

Pulis has told close friends his only focus has been on keeping the club in the Premier League and once that has been achieved he may well make a statement on his own future and recent developments.

And assistant manager Dave Kemp believes Stoke players have rediscovered their self belief to make Pulis safe against Norwich this weekend, which could see developments in the situation regarding the manager.

City took themselves to the brink of Premier League safety with last weekend's 2-0 victory at QPR, their first in eight games and Kemp believes that will give Pulis' players the confidence to banish relegation fears completely on Saturday.

"I think that belief is a vital part of football," Kemp said. "Confidence is everything to players at all levels. When you are on a bad run, players are still trying to do the right things and trying their hardest.

"A win like that gives everyone a lift and hopefully we will see that on Saturday against Norwich. There is a lot on the game and a win will take us to 40 points, but it is important we try to win every game we can."

Pulis has lost the backing of a section of Stoke fans, many of whom have been critical of his loyalty to Peter Crouch, ahead of Kenwyne Jones, but the former England striker answered some of those critics with his goal at Loftus Road last week.

Crouch had scored just once in 26 games before the visit to his former club, but also won the penalty for Stoke's second goal and Kemp believes it was a reward for his endeavours all season.

"Peter has been playing well enough, but like all centre forwards you are judged on goals. Getting on the score sheet will give him a big boost and hopefully he'll get some more now in our remaining games," he said.


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