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Monday 18 December 2017

Delap: Weakened Stoke will give it all to win in Valencia

Rory Delap has assured the thousands of Stoke fans who have travelled to Valencia that the side will give everything in a bid to reach the last 16 of the Europa League.

The headlines before tonight's second leg, in which the Potters are attempting to overturn a 1-0 deficit, centred on boss Tony Pulis' squad selection, with Ryan Shawcross, Matthew Etherington, Peter Crouch and Jon Walters left behind.

An estimated 4,000 Stoke fans have descended on Spain hoping to spur their team on to what would be a shock victory at the Mestalla, with Valencia boasting a significant European pedigree in the Europa League, UEFA Cup and Champions League.

Delap took encouragement from Stoke's performance in last week's home leg, where they were beaten only by Mehmet Topal's 30-yard screamer, and backed the players who have travelled to deliver.

Delap said: "We obviously knew Valencia were a top side but it took a wonder goal to beat us and I think, with a little tweak here and there, and if a few of us perform better, that we can give Valencia a game.

"We're not coming here to roll over and go out of the competition. People are saying about the team we've brought over, but there's not one of us who is going to turn up here and think the tie is over. There's a lot of fans coming from England and we'd let ourselves, the club and everyone associated with Stoke down if any one of us thought that."

Delap headed out to Spain a relieved man after the English Football Association overturned the red card he was shown for a challenge on Crawley's David Hunt in Sunday's FA Cup clash, which the Potters went on to win 2-0.

The 35-year-old said: "I was fuming but the club again stood by me and we've managed to overturn it. I've heard the lad's injured so I send my best to him but I thought it was a fair tackle at the time. I've seen it on video and I still think it was.

"My first thought was for the team and thank God they managed to get the win."

Pulis welcomed the decision after failing in an appeal against Robert Huth's red card in the Premier League defeat by Sunderland earlier this month, and he called for a consensus on dangerous tackles.

"There's a grey area that has to be sorted out," said the Potters boss. "There's such a difference at times between what we think is a bad challenge and what referees think is a bad challenge, and we've got to get together and try and close that gap."

Valencia v Stoke, Setanta Ireland (K.O 6.0)

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