Pulis issues hands-off warning
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has ruled out the likelihood of the club selling any key players during the January transfer window.
Having started the new league campaign in stuttering form, drawing each of their first four games, Stoke have shot up the table in recent weeks to ninth spot, winning four of their last five.
A major part of their upturn in form has been their defensive solidity, keeping seven clean sheets and letting in just 12 goals in their opening 15 games, with only champions Manchester City conceding less.
As a consequence, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has been linked with moves to both Liverpool and Manchester United, with Pulis braced to fend off interest in his key men.
"If a big club comes in for any of our players, then it is very difficult to say 'no, we are not going to do it'," Pulis told reporters.
"You can talk as much as you want, though one thing I will say is that it is a big year for us this year and we will not be selling any of our better players in the January window, and that is full stop.
"It is a massive year for every club in the Premier League and this football club realises and recognises that.
"You hope you get interest because it shows the player is playing really well.
"But there will be no sales. We will be looking to bring one or two in, but there will be no sales of any of the big players at this football club during the window."
Pulis remains hopeful of welcoming back Peter Crouch to the side against Aston Villa on Saturday, who missed the 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion after losing several teeth in a nasty collision with Newcastle centre-back Fabricio Coloccini.
"Peter went down to London yesterday to have a guard fitted in his mouth, and hopefully that will help him," he said.
"He will train with the rest of the lads today (Thursday) with it fitted, and we will see how he goes.
"We are hoping it protects him enough so that we can include him in the squad in some capacity at the weekend.
"He was desperate to be involved against West Brom last weekend, but we were advised against doing so. Hopefully though, we can have him back for selection against Villa."