Pulis has dig

STOKE City boss Tony Pulis had a dig at the Academy system as he mused over his choice of cover for the banned Michael Duberry today.Carl Dickinson, who has just returned from a loan spell at Blackpool, is in contention, along with Lewis Buxton for the left-back spot.

By Derek Davis

STOKE City boss Tony Pulis had a dig at the Academy system as he mused over his choice of cover for the banned Michael Duberry today.

Carl Dickinson, who has just returned from a loan spell at Blackpool, is in contention, along with Lewis Buxton for the left-back spot.

Pulis joined the ranks of critics, and echoed Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who questioned the strength of competition in youth team football when assessing the lack of homegrown talent coming through.


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Pulis, who has sent four of his younger players out on loan already this season, insists his policy will turn boys into men far quicker than Academy football ever can.

Pulis said: “Dicko has gone to a club (Blackpool) that desperately needs results on a Saturday, whereas you don't get that same pressure in Academy football. Sometimes the kids are closeted away from that.

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“No disrespect to Academy football, but I think if kids can be pushed into men's football as quickly as possible, as long as they are physically capable, then I think that should be encouraged.

“It's got to be a good experience for a young player to be involved in games that means a lot, not just to you, your team-mates, your manager or even your club, but also to thousands of supporters in the town.

“Whether you are playing for Halifax in non-league or Manchester United, there are people there desperately wanting you to win football matches.

“In youth team football, you can lose a game but still be happy with yourself because you think you've played well yourself.

“But in first-team football you're not just playing for yourself, but for people around the town as well.

“Whatever anyone says, this is a winning and competitive game. We have got to produce winners as well as good footballers.”

Whether Dickinson has benefited sufficiently from scrapping week-in, week-out for points at Blackpool to play a prominent part in who fills that left-back vacancy at Portman Road. Dickinson appears the obvious choice - and was back on the bench ahead of Lewis Buxton at Colchester last Saturday - but the versatile Buxton played pretty regularly at left-back last season. But Buxton might also be considered at centre-half, with Clint Hill remaining at left-back instead of switching inside for the suspended Duberry, because Buxton's right foot would offer better balance than the left-footed Hill and Danny Higginbotham in unison in central defence.

City travel east for a second successive Saturday desperate to avoid anything approaching the trauma of last week's 3-0 beating at Colchester. It was their first defeat in eight, and the first goal conceded after 657 minutes.

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