TONY PULIS has stressed that getting to 40 points as quickly as possible remains Stoke City's one and only objective at this stage of the season . . . as they aim to round off 2012 on a high note when they take on Southampton at the Britannia Stadium.
Pulis has dismissed talk of setting other targets over the remainder of the campaign, even though a nine-match unbeaten run has given rise to optimism about what his side could possibly achieve in the Barclays Premier League over the coming months.
City will be aiming to extend that excellent run when they face Southampton and thus consolidate their healthy position in the top half of the Premier League table.
But Pulis insisted: "Getting to 40 points as quickly as possible is all that matters to us at moment. That's always been the case since we've been in the Premier League and it remains so now because there is still an awful lot of hard work to be done.
"As I have stated before, only when we have reached that target will we take another look at what might be achievable over the remainder of the season.
"We're delighted with the position we're in, but we have to keep our feet firmly on the floor. If we start getting ahead of ourselves, then it will backfire on us.
"Things can change very quickly in this League and we have some tough games coming over up the next few weeks, starting with the visit of Southampton."
Pulis is wary of a reaction to his side's excellent victory over Liverpool on Boxing Day because of the expectation levels following that result, especially as they face a Southampton side who are now making a good fist of adjusting to life in the top-flight.
"Southampton will be our toughest game of the week because of the expectation levels following the Liverpool result," he commented.
"We'll need everyone to be up for it, players and supporters alike, which is not always easy after a big game like the one on Boxing Day.
"We have been drumming that into the players over the last couple of days and we need the supporters right behind us once again.
"I'm sure that Southampton won't half fancy their chances in those circumstances and they'll come here off the back of a good point at Fulham where they were perhaps unlucky not to have won the match in the end."