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Pulis praises Crouch influence

Tony Pulis has praised Peter Crouch's impact on his Stoke City team-mates as the striker prepares to return to one of his former clubs on Sunday afternoon.

• Pulis hopeful of Stoke stay
• Jones apologises to Whelan

The centre-forward hit 16 goals in 33 games for Southampton in 2004-05 to earn himself a £7 million move to Liverpool.

And, as he returns to St Mary's on the final day of the Premier League season, he has been described by his manager as the perfect example to the younger members of Stoke's squad.

"Signing the right senior players helps the group and Peter proves that," Pulis said. "He has been a smashing signing.

"He's very good with the younger players who have come in like Marc Wilson, Asmir Begovic and Ryan Shawcross. To have Peter there with the way he trains and conducts himself is first-class."

Crouch was hotly tipped for an England recall after making an impressive start to 2012-13. He had scored five goals by the end of September and, although he has only netted a further two since coming back from a serious mid-season injury, one of those was in the crucial 2-0 victory at QPR last month.

And Pulis believes the well-travelled Londoner helped drag his team-mates along at a time when Stoke looked like becoming embroiled in a major battle for survival.

Among his established men, the manager is committed to trying to introduce more young blood into his side for next season but is not convinced that the success Aston Villa have had to date with that policy is a blueprint that can be copied.

"I would love to bring in ten 19-year-olds and grow the club but I don't think it works that way," he said. "Villa have done it and done it okay. One of the great tasks is to produce lads from this area. We are spending a lot on the infrastructure of the club.

"I don't think this club have had the credit we deserve because if you look around at other Premier League clubs, they all had training grounds and we have had to do what we've done on the pitch at the same time as refurbishing the stadium and building up the infrastructure. There was nothing here."

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