Pulis hails ‘exciting times’ for continental Stoke

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis cannot wait for his side’s first European match in 37 years on Thursday.After finishing in last year’s FA Cup final – which they lost 1-0 to Manchester City – Stoke earned a spot in qualifying for the Europa League group stage.

The English Premier League club’s first test comes when Croatian side Hajduk Split travel to the Brittania Stadium on Thursday.

“It’s exciting times,” Pulis said.

“It’s part of what has been a fantastic five years at the football club.”

“To have the opportunity of playing a European game at the Britannia against such a famous side as Split is first class. We’re all looking forward to it.”

Pulis is aware of the talent Hajduk possess, but insisted his side would not take a backward step.

He also made mention of the electric atmosphere sure to greet the players on Thursday.

“They’re a good side. We’ve watched tapes of them from the back end of last season and pre-season and have been out and watched them,” Pulis said.

“But it’s a home game for us and irrespective of what they do or they don’t do. The priority is that we’re prepared, we’re right and give it the best shot we possibly can.”

“The place will be rocking. They tell me the atmosphere in Split is fantastic – well let’s see what they think of our atmosphere.”

Jonathan Woodgate could make his first competitive appearance for the club following his move from Tottenham Hotspur.

The injury-plagued defender came through the side’s friendly against Aldershot on Saturday with no ill-effects.