De Laet - Stoke City have fine-tuned act
Norwich City defender Ritchie De Laet has warned his new team-mates that former club Stoke City’s brand of football is about a lot more than route one.
De Laet was snapped up by Manchester United from the Potters as a 20-year-old but saw enough in his time there to realise Tony Pulis’ men have developed more than just a physical threat as a top-flight side.
Stoke have split opinion among some Premier League followers for their direct approach but De Laet believes the Potters have added a degree of refinement to their game.
“They play their football as well having the physical side,” said De Laet, who was one of City’s outstanding performers on Saturday against Wigan after his mistake led to the Latics’ goal. “They can get it wide and with two big strikers up front, if they need to, they can put the ball in there and know they will get their heads in because they are not afraid to get hurt.”
De Laet is looking forward to performing in front of the Carrow Road faithful, however and believes they can give City the boost they need against the Potters.
“It’s going to be a hard game – they are well established now as well and they are in the Europa League. But it’s the first game at Carrow Road at home in the Premier League and the crowd is going to be amazing and they are going to get really behind us and hopefully that can push us on.”
De Laet could have a different defensive partner on Sunday after Zak Whitbread limped off with a knee injury against Wigan.
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Leon Barnett could step in although manager Paul Lambert could be tempted to throw Daniel Ayala straight in after he completed his move from Liverpool earlier in the week and impressed for the reserves on Tuesday night.
However, the former Royal Antwerp man is confident he can forge an understanding with whoever is alongside him.
“This league is very hard but we’re building an understanding all over the pitch now – it’s not 100 per cent but we’re working on it in training. We’ll work on it again against Stoke and then go from there.”
De Laet hopes any Manchester United scout watching his display against Wigan can look past the mistake which led to their goal but they would have been impressed by his reaction as he provided two crucial blocks in the closing stages.
“If they send somebody out, they send somebody out – obviously they are not going to tell me beforehand, but if a report goes in then hopefully they say I did well in the second half after that mistake.”