Stoke City stalemate: Pulis and O’Neill’s verdicts and injury worries for Wycombe clash


It was a game to forget for Stoke City against Sheffield Wednesday, but it’s a useful point on the road for Michael O’Neill’s side.

We take a look at all the very latest headlines..

We caught up with what the City fans had to say after watching their side draw against their former boss, Tony Pulis.

Jables: I fully appreciate the intense irony of a Stoke City fan saying this, but Tony Pulis-coached teams are just a horror to behold.

Charlie: I’m quite thankful we don’t have to watch that every week from now on.

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George: Well that was a waste of a tenner

Matt Rhodes: It’s easy to see why we were unanimously hated under Pulis. That was a hard watch

Cal: Nothing we could do about pulisball.

Joseph Ely: Not bad considering we had a load of injuries and we normally lose against pulis

SpenceWright2046: I’d of bitten you’re hand off for a point this morning so I can’t really complain

Tom: The most dead game ever

Sam: Painful.

What Tony said

Tony Pulis is never shy of praising an opponent but there was something heartfelt in his review of the Stoke City side he took on today.

Pulis, in his first home game in charge of Sheffield Wednesday, oversaw a well-contested goalless draw. Stoke only managed two shots on target but that was two more than Wednesday in a game when both teams were determined to give nothing away.

It was his third match since replacing Garry Monk and Wednesday, who had six points deducted at the start of the season, are now second-bottom and four points adrift of Nottingham Forest and the safety line.

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And he has also pointed out that he’s been chucked in at the deep end with away matches at Preston and Swansea, at home to “very, very good” Stoke and high-flying Reading before a trip to Norwich.

He said: “I have been in charge for three games and the players’ attitude has been absolute first class.

“I don’t think we would have lost against Preston if we had had 11 men on the pitch. I thought we played well in the first half against Swansea without creating too many chances.

“We were solid today. Stoke are a very, very good side and have got a great depth of quality right through the team. I don’t think either side created enough chances to win.

“We are short in areas that we need to address. The more you stay in the game the more you understand that you need leg beaters, quality on set plays and you need people who can score from set plays. You also need goals and people who can sniff out goals for you.

“We’ve got Josh (Windass) coming back after suspension following the game on Wednesday night and hopefully that will help us a little bit but we need to get through to the window and, fingers crossed, we can hopefully get some more quality in.”

This was Pulis’s first clean sheet since taking the job – and picked up against a side who were the second highest scorers in the Championship.

He said: “I am pleased but to win games of football you have to have it at both ends. You can’t just have it at one end.

“I don’t think you can fault the players for their effort and commitment, but I’m concerned about the games because there are tough games coming up after the effort they’ve put in.

“We have got tough games coming up but the players’ attitude has been good but it’s a tough gig this one.”

Our player ratings

Here are the player ratings from misty Hillsborough.

Bursik: Put under considerable pressure whenever Wednesday could but kept his cool. 7

Collins: Stepped up at right-back with a mature defensive performance – and the odd good cross. 7

Chester: Comfortable on the ball, whether it was playing long passes or short. 7

Batth: Vital challenge on Jordan Rhodes mid-way through second half. 7

Fox: A couple of key headers and up for the scrap. 7

Mikel: A big presence in the middle, with quality and grit. 7

Clucas: Finding his stride after return from injury and a couple of driving runs. 6

Powell: Not everything came off but he was the most likely spark for large chunks. 6

Campbell: A couple of openings with a turn of pace or touch of skill. 6

McClean: Keen to get right up into final third as often as he could on return from isolation. 6

Gregory: Painful end to afternoon for boyhood Sheffield United fan. 6

Substitutes

Vokes (for Gregory, 26): Will be disappointed not to have buried second half cross from Collins. Almost nicked it in injury time. 6

Cousins (for Mikel, 76): Almost straight in book as he came on in holding role. 6

Brown (for McClean, 79): Fresh legs on for final stages. 6

Not used: Noukeu, Lindsay, Ince, Smith, Oakley-Boothe, Tymon.

Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith; Palmer, Lees, Borner, van Aken; Harris (Odubajo, 83), Bannan, Luongo, Shaw (Rhodes, 46; Brown, 85), Reach; Paterson. Subs: Dawson, Dele-Bashiru, Penney, Pelupessy, Hunt, Kachunga.

Gaffer talk

Lee Gregory is a major doubt for at least Stoke City’s next match at Wycombe, John Obi Mikel will be assessed and Harry Souttar will be unavailable for at least a fortnight as Michael O’Neill’s squad is put to the test.

Gregory was handed a start this afternoon at Sheffield Wednesday but limped off mid-way through the first half after a hefty challenge, landing awkwardly and suffering a groin injury.

Mikel was withdrawn in the closing stages with a tight calf – and Souttar is in self-isolation after his partner tested positive for Covid-19.

O’Neill said: “Lee fell and it was a bit of a centre-back doing two or three what I would call reckless challenges. He came through the back of Lee and fell of him in an awkward position and was clearly in a lot of pain when he left the pitch. It’s too early to assess the damage at this point.”

He added: “Looking at how Lee left the pitch I’d say he had very little chance of being involved. We’ll have to assess that.

“John is slightly different. He has a tightness in his calf and John being John he wanted to stay on. I think it made sense to bring him off when we did. Jordan (Cousins) came on and did a good job in the last 10 or 15 minutes.

“We’re in a situation with these types of injuries because of the loading on the players and we can’t take unnecessary risks.

“We don’t want to lose them for any longer than necessary. We’re already down two goalkeepers, we’re still waiting on Joe (Allen) and Ryan (Shawcross) coming back, Jordan Thompson out, Steven Fletcher out.

“We’re missing quite a bit at the minute, the squad is being stretched and tested but we’ll pick a team at Wycombe on Wednesday that we believe can win the game.”

Souttar has been a key man since returning from 18 months on loan at Fleetwood Town.

O’Neill said: “Harry’s having to self isolate because his partner has tested positive. That’s the nature of the rules so we have to abide by that.

“Harry himself has not tested positive but we have to continue to monitor that situation.

“It’s disappointing because we play so many games in such a short period of time. Harry will miss possibly four or five games. I’m not sure when we take the isolation period back to.

“No player likes to come out of the team, particularly when they’ve broken in.

“But that’s the climate we’re living in, the situation we have to deal with. It’s not the first time we’ve had to do deal with it this season.

“It’s frustrating for him but we’ll get him back and try to keep him fit in the interim period.”





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