Date: 19th February 2016 at 5:38pm
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Head coach Tony Pulis and the very versatile Chris Brunt have both spoken ahead of the FA Cup fifth round tie against Reading this weekend.

Beginning with Pulis’ pre game press conference, the Birmingham Mail have the gaffer quoted as saying that he hoped the players would be as motivated for this tie as he was, and this time round, hopefully we’ll get through without needing yet another replay and a second bite at the cherry.

‘I`ll pick a strong team tomorrow – a team that can win the game. It`s important for me. I just hope the players are motivated and up for it as I`ll be and I`m sure the 4,000 supporters that travel will be.’

With two replays needed against lower league opposition in the last two rounds to reach this stage – Bristol City and Peterborough United – Pulis knows Reading under Brian McDermott will be another tough test, but with injuries and fatigue hitting the players, we need the game to be decided without the need for another fixture this time.

‘If we can do it one game we do it one game. Reading will be the same, they`ll want to get it over and done with in one game. You don`t want a continuation of the fixture. It would be another midweek game, another three-game week and that makes things a bit more difficult. It has been difficult for us over a period because of injury and everything else. But if it takes two games it takes two games. We`ve accepted that in the first two rounds. This will be our toughest game so far. They`ve got some good players. Players that can hurt you.’

As for his opposite number this time, he knows him well.

‘I know Brian he`s a smashing fella and they`ll be well up for it. It will be a proper cup tie.’

With Roberto Martinez’s words following the victory over Everton, Pulis also took the opportunity to respond to his criticism – describing it as sour grapes.

‘There was no Saido tackle on McCarthy, otherwise they (FA) would have dealt with it. I was a little bit disappointed with Roberto in respect of trying to bring something up after we`d won the game. It almost smells of sour grapes and you don`t need that. We`ve gone there and won a game of football, then people are looking for other things to moan and groan about. There was an incident in that game that happened to me and I`ve not said a word about it. I don`t think it`s relevant, the game of football is the most important thing.’

As for Brunt, he was singing from the same hymnsheet when it came to not needing another replay this weekend, and the 31 year old explained.

‘We`ve been stretched to the maximum. But we`ve come out the other side of it now and hopefully we can go to Reading on Saturday and try to avoid another replay. We`re taking the long road round in the cup this year, but that`s the way the FA Cup goes. I`m sure the lads have played more games than they were expecting to and a few of the lads that haven`t had that much game time have stepped in, especially at Peterborough, and put in a good performance. That`s why you`ve got big squads these days in football.’

He went on to say with the opposition knocking us out in 2011 and our fifth round exit the previous season.

‘I think the return game went to extra time as well as far as I can remember. At this stage of the season with the amount of games we`ve had it`s important we try to avoid that. They`ll want to turn us over as a Premier League team. So it`s important we prepare well and hopefully get a result in the first game rather than taking it back to the Hawthorns.’

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