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Stoke boss says Fulham striker is best signing in Premier League

Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov (right) has a shot on goal against Everton. Photo credit: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov (right) has a shot on goal against Everton. Photo credit: Tony Marshall/EMPICS

Friday, November 23, 2012
5:01 PM

Stoke boss Tony Pulis feels Fulham’s Dimitar Berbatov has been one of the stand-out stars of the Premier League season so far.

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Berbatov, having fallen out of favour at Manchester United, joined the Cottagers on transfer deadline day in August, becoming manager Martin Jol’s most high-profile recruit of the summer.

A day later the 31-year-old Bulgarian striker made his debut as a substitute, since when he has scored five goals in seven starts, and Pulis - whose side host Fulham at the Britannia Stadium tomorrow - has no doubt Jol has made a very shrewd move.

“He is a good manager and he is very well respected around the country,” Pulis said of his counterpart.

“Fulham have some good players and I think Berbatov has been the outstanding buy for them.

“He is the glue that knits it all together.

“He looks as if he is really, really enjoying himself having found a home where he is the main player. Looking at him, he is just showing the class that he possesses.”

Asked if there had been a better signing made by a Premier League club over the summer, Pulis said: “It doesn’t look like it at the moment.”

He added: “I think our supporters will see one of the best players in the Premier League on Saturday on the ball.

“He can win games by himself and has been a great signing for Martin.

“Berbatov is one of the outstanding players in the Premier League this year. It is worth the admission fee just to see him play.”

Fulham, currently ninth in the table on 16 points, have been free-scoring in general, netting 25 times in their 12 top-flight games this term.

They have also conceded 22 goals, though, and their defence will be missing suspended team captain Brede Hangeland tomorrow after the Norway international was sent off in last Sunday’s 3-1 home defeat to Sunderland.

Pulis, whose Stoke side are 14th on 13 points, is aware of the Cottagers’ apparent strengths and weaknesses, but is not about to make any assumptions ahead of the clash at the Britannia Stadium.

“I’ve watched their games and they have conceded goals, but they don’t half look good going forward,” Pulis said.

“We know it is going to be a tough game.

“We respect everybody in the Premier League and we certainly won’t be taking Fulham for granted, whatever anybody says about their attacking, defending or whatever.”

Stoke could be without defender Andy Wilkinson for tomorrow’s match.

Wilkinson had to come off in the first half of Monday’s 1-1 draw at West Ham due to a back problem and has undergone a scan.

If he is ruled out, his replacement at Upton Park, Ryan Shotton, is likely to deputise once again at full-back.

Midfielder Dean Whitehead is back available after being suspended for the game against the Hammers, but striker Michael Owen is not expected to be ready to make his return from a hamstring complaint, while midfielder Rory Delap (hernia) and defender Marc Wilson (broken leg) remain sidelined.

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Fulham

Nickname: The Whites

Ground: Craven Cottage (capacity 25,700)

Founded: 1879

Honours: Second Division: 1949, 2001.

Third Division: 1932, 1999.

Southern League: 1906, 1907.

Leading goalscorer: Gordon Davies, 178.

Leading appearances: Johnny Haynes, 658.