Pulis leaves stars at home
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has decided to rest a number of his first-team regulars for Wednesday's match against Besiktas.
Last Updated: 15/12/11 4:28pm
Stoke manager Tony Pulis has decided to rest a number of his first-team regulars for Wednesday's Europa League match against Besiktas in Turkey.
Jon Walters is among the players who arrived at Stoke's training ground on Tuesday morning with his bags packed for the trip to Istanbul, only to be told he would be staying at home.
Pulis is expected to play a second-string side, with the Potters having already qualified for the last 32 and the game coming three days after victory over Tottenham and three days before another Premier League match at Wolves.
But the Stoke boss waited until the last minute to inform his squad, as Walters told the club's official website: "We were all told to report for training with our bags packed for the trip to Turkey.
"But the manager has decided to rest many of the players who started on Sunday because we have another big game at Wolves this weekend."
There is still something to play for on Wednesday night for Stoke, who need a draw to ensure top spot in Group A, while the same result would give Besiktas second place.
A victory for the Turkish side at the intimidating Inonu Stadium would take them above their opponents.
But when Walters heard about the journey his team-mates endured getting to Turkey, he would certainly have been glad not to have made the trip.
The specially-chartered jet carrying the Stoke party was delayed at Manchester Airport because of congestion in Turkish airspace, and when the team did eventually reach Istanbul they were forced to land at the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Asia.
Another short flight was therefore needed to get the team to Ataturk Airport, where they arrived around 10.30pm local time, three hours later than scheduled and less than 22 hours before kick-off.
A Stoke statement read: "While the club are disappointed at making a late arrival in Istanbul, they have stressed that the circumstances were out of their control."