Pulis applauds Wilkinson attitude

Wilkinson
Tony Pulis was pleased with Andy Wilkinson. Photo: PA

Stoke boss Tony Pulis has commended the attitude of Andy Wilkinson, claiming the Potters defender's reaction to a wild-looking challenge from Sunderland's Craig Gardner in Saturday's 0-0 draw at the Britannia Stadium epitomised "the spirit of the game".

Wilkinson was sent flying by a tackle in the 84th minute from Black Cats midfielder Gardner, who got nowhere near the ball and was booked for his trouble.

Having picked himself up off the turf, the Stoke man appeared to accept his opponent's apology with some form of a handshake.

And Pulis was later keen to point to that as an example of how players should conduct themselves on the pitch.

The manager, who has been calling in recent weeks for more action to be taken against diving, said: "I thought Andy Wilkinson's reaction to the challenge with Gardner in the second half was absolutely fantastic.

"The crowd have gone up and it looks a bad challenge from where we are. Whether it was I'm not sure, but he certainly caught Wilko.

"But he (Wilkinson) got up, shook his hand, dusted himself down and got on with the game. That is the way it used to be.

"We talk - and I have been one - about people diving in boxes and falling over, and there is a lot made of that.

"Have a look at what Wilko has done there. That is the spirit of the game and that is men playing against men. It is not boys - it is a man's game and I thought he was very good in doing what he did.

"You might say you hinder yourself because the player could have been sent off and you could have been playing against 10 men. But I'd rather him do that than anything else."

While Wilkinson came out of that collision more or less unscathed, a more innocuous-looking incident earlier in the Barclays Premier League contest left his fellow Stoke defender Marc Wilson with an injury that has now been confirmed as a broken fibula.

Wilson damaged his left leg as he went in with Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher to win the ball just a few minutes into the second half and the Republic of Ireland international had to be carried off on a stretcher.

Pulis said in his post-match press conference that Wilson had been taken straight to hospital and writing on his Twitter account, the player later said: "Have broke my fibula. Hopefully I can make a speedy recovery

"Thanks every1 for the support. Really appreciate it."

Stoke this morning confirmed the news on their official website, with Pulis, who had suggested the injury came as a consequence of Wilson getting his studs caught in the ground rather than any contact from Fletcher, saying: "Marc will be out for a while, but we are not sure at this stage for how long."

In a match of few clear-cut chances, Stoke - who survived a penalty claim when Fletcher's shot struck Robert Huth's arm in the area - posed the greater attacking threat but were unable to make a breakthrough.

The performance of Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was a significant factor in that, the 24-year-old Belgian producing a string of saves with the best being a point-blank stop to keep out Huth's header.

Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill was full of praise for Mignolet, saying: "He has been fantastic for us this year.

"He started on New Year's Day for us when Keiren Westwood was ill and Simon was not particularly fit - in fact he had brought his parent over for the game thinking he was going to be sitting in the stand.

"He played that game with a mask because he had broken his nose and jaw I think, and he has been fantastic since then.

"With age on his side, he should be a really fine goalkeeper."

The result means Stoke and Sunderland have now each drawn six times in the Premier League this season, the former in a total of nine fixtures and the latter in eight with both on nine points.