STEVEN NZONZI will be available for Stoke City’s visit to champions Manchester City when they look to extend their unbeaten run into the New Year.
The Club have received the all-clear from the Football Association for Nzonzi to feature at the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Day after they lodged a claim for wrongful dismissal immediately after the Southampton game in which he was shown a red card by Mark Clattenburg following a clash with Jack Cork.
Manager Tony Pulis confirmed that the Potters would be lodging an appeal against the sending off after asking the referee to take another look at the incident.
Pulis revealed that he had spoken to Clattenburg about the challenge on Cork which led to him showing Nzonzi a straight red, a decision which left City battling with ten men as they mounted a second fightback to earn a 3-3 draw.
City’s manager is hoping that the sending off will be overturned, one way or another, to allow the influential French Under-21 international to be available for their forthcoming games.
“I’ve spoken to Mark and, hopefully, if he takes another look at it, he’ll change his mind on whether it was worthy of a sending off,” said City’s manager.
“We’ll certainly be appealing, if it is not rescinded. When you consider some of the incidents we’ve been involved in this season, I would hope he will look at it favourably for us because Steven has not touched the lad and there was no intent to hurt him.
“He has actually planted his foot between Cork’s legs, but what disappoints me is that the lad has rolled around. That puts more pressure on the referee.”
Pulis was delighted with the character and spirit which his side showed to salvage a point and was slightly disappointed that they didn’t win in the end.
That was a stark contrast, however, to their first half performance when Southampton capitalised on some defensive lapses to storm into a 3-1 lead.
“I thought we were awful in the first half, as poor as we’ve been,” added City’s manager. “We were poor defensively and we gave bad goals away. We just looked off the pace and were still patting ourselves on the back after the Liverpool result.
“It took us 45 minutes to get going, but in the second half we played with more fire in our bellies. There was a lot of spirit and a lot of commitment. In the end, even with ten men, we are disappointed that we haven’t won the game.
“We’ve had a goal disallowed and we should have had a penalty, so there were enough opportunities for us to have snatched all three points.”
Pulis was full of praise for substitute Cameron Jerome’s contribution after he fired home a stunning 30-yard drive in the final minute of normal time to crown the fightback after defender Matthew Upson had reduced the deficit midway through the second half.
Although Jerome’s wonder strike could well be a strong contender for Goal of the Season, the manager still believes that Peter Crouch’s spectacular volley past Joe Hart against Manchester City back in March earlier this year takes some beating.
“I think Crouchy’s goal is the best one I’ve seen at the Britannia Stadium in a long, long time, but Cammie’s strike is very close,” he commented.
“A lot of people ask me why I don’t start with Cammie. But when he starts a game, he sometimes gets lost when it’s tight and compact in the early stages.
“When the game starts to open up, he’s got lots of energy coming on as a substitute. That’s when he’s at his best and his most effective.
“He’s a fantastic impact player, absolutely fantastic. When there’s more space around, he gets into that space and causes defenders problems.”