Pulis wary of Fletcher
Stoke boss Tony Pulis has targeted striker Steven Fletcher as Sunderland's danger man in Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium.
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Fletcher, who made the switch from Wolves to Wearside for a fee of £12 million this summer, has scored five of Sunderland's six league goals, the other an own goal by Newcastle's Demba Ba in last weekend's Wear-Tyne derby.
Pulis admitted Fletcher had been one of the players he was interested in bringing to his club this summer, but while he admires the goalscoring form of the Scotland international, the Potters boss is aware Sunderland have a side that poses a threat from several areas of the pitch.
"If you look at the records so far, with the goals he's scored, obviously he's going to be a danger," Pulis said of the on-form Fletcher.
"We might have tried (to sign Fletcher) but we've tried with a lot of players.
"But they've got good midfield players. If you look at Adam Johnson, (Sebastian) Larsson's very good off set plays. (James) McClean is good on the other side. (Stephane) Sessegnon can win games.
"They've got experience at the back so they're a decent side."
Stoke have only earned themselves eight points from their opening eight Premier League games this season, something which has disappointed Pulis despite the calibre of their opposition.
The Potters have faced Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in a tough start to their campaign but now face a less daunting sequence of fixtures where they are scheduled to play Sunderland, Norwich, QPR, West Ham and Fulham.
Sunderland have also picked up eight points from their opening fixtures but still have a game in hand thanks to the postponement of their match against Reading.
Pulis thinks Martin O'Neill's Sunderland are similar to his side as they need something to kick-start their season, with both sides only having one Premier League win to show so far.
"They've got some very good players and he (O'Neill) has got the basis of a very decent squad there," Pulis said.
"They're a bit like us. They need a couple of results and a couple of breaks just to get themselves moving. I see them as being, they are and will be, a very competitive Premier League side.
"We've enjoyed the season so far. It's been a tough start. We've played five of the first eight games at home and two of our home games have been against Man City and Arsenal so it's been a very difficult start for us."
Pulis also confirmed that striker Cameron Jerome could be set to move to npower Championship side Blackburn on a short-term loan.
The 26-year-old has only made three appearances from the bench this season and could now move to Ewood Park for a three-month loan spell.
The Potters boss, who earlier this week said he would not let Kenwyne Jones or Wilson Palacios leave the club on loan, confirmed he had been in touch with Blackburn's caretaker boss Eric Black.
Pulis said: "Eric rang up to enquire about Cameron. It would be a three-month loan with a recall available after 28 days.
"But it's a bit awkward as Rovers don't have a manager at the moment.
"If it comes off, it would be a good one because Cameron is the kind of player that needs game time.
"It's not far away and they are a decent Championship side."
Jones, who joined Stoke from Sunderland in a then club-record deal worth £8m, looks set to start on the bench as in-form striker Peter Crouch is likely to keep him out of the side that will start at the Britannia.
Pulis said: "The way Crouchy has started, it's probably been a pain in Kenwyne's neck because Peter has done exceptionally well so far.
"I'm hoping we are doing so well we don't have to bring him (Jones) on. But if we do, I'm sure he will do his best."
Midfielder Glenn Whelan could be back in contention after he returned to training on Thursday following a hamstring problem suffered earlier this month against Liverpool.