TONY PULIS admitted that his Stoke City squad are feeling the heat of their tough pre-season schedule as they prepared for their opening game in the United States . . . but he stressed that they will feel the benefit of it in the weeks ahead.
Not long after stepping off a plane at the end of a 20-hour long day travelling from Stoke to their first base in Columbus, Pulis’ players took to the training ground in searing heat and humidity to prepare for a meeting with MLS opposition on Tuesday.
The Potters kick off their tour of the USA with a game against Columbus Crew, but Pulis is not concerned about the outcome of that encounter with a team who are now almost midway through their season in the Eastern Conference of the MLS.
“It has been incredibly tough and there have been one or two moans and groans, which is quite understandable in the circumstances,” said City’s boss.
“But the hard work that they put in now will stand them in good stead when the important work gets underway and they will get accustomed to it.
“We will work them very hard over the first 15 days of pre-season, but then we will steady it down and put the emphasis on shorter and sharper stuff.”
He added: “You have to accept that performances in these matches may be affected by the work that we are doing beforehand, but the results don’t concern me at this stage. It’s all about building their levels of fitness for the long season that lies ahead.
“The Columbus game will be our third session of the day because we will have the players up at 7.00am in the morning for training and then gym work.
“We know that we are up against a side who have played 18 League games into their season, so they should be much sharper than us and it will be very tough.”
Pulis sought the advice of other managers before committing to the trip to the United States which is something of a break from tradition for the Potters.
“Most of the people who have been out here have enjoyed the experience, but you have to come over and experience it for yourself and then decide whether it’s right for the Club,” he continued in looking ahead to the meeting with Columbus Crew.
“We had an experience of dealing with a lot of travelling and playing in different time zones last season in the Europa League. One day, I hope that we will do that all over again, sooner rather than later, so I feel this is something that we had to do.
“There is no doubt we were affected by all that last season, but it has been interesting to come here and experience it again, which will all help us to prepare for that.”
As expected, Pulis plans to give all of the players in his 24-man squad which has made the trip more game time at the Columbus Crew Stadium on Tuesday evening.