Stoke boss Tony Pulis has admitted that this season's Europa League adventure has taken its toll on his players.
The Potters enjoyed a strong run in the group stage before being knocked out by current semi-finalists Valencia in February.
Although Pulis has found the experience in the competition highly rewarding, he conceded that playing upwards of 50 matches in the campaign has left his players drained.
He told Absolute Radio: “We’ve had a great season this year in respect of the European experience.
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity to watch and be involved in European football for the first time for a long time at this football club.
“The supporters and everybody connected to the club, [the] Chairman, the family, have really, really enjoyed that experience.
“It’s difficult, it is draining and certainly during the season, it certainly takes it out of you, but it’s what we’re all here for - to experience new things and glean as much out of them as we can. The football club’s certainly done that.”
Pulis admitted that Stoke’s growing reputation on the European stage has helped the club to attract some big name players, adding: “I think we’ve done that gradually over a period.
"I think when we first came in we couldn’t get an agent to speak to us. Now they’re ringing us all the time so I think that’s most probably the best barometer you can gauge us on.”
The Potters take on high-flying Newcastle United this weekend, with the Magpies currently enjoying a run of five wins on the trot in the Premier League which has left them right in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Alan Pardew’s side have come a long way since their relegation in 2009, and Pulis believes his side are capable of emulating their recent progress - providing they play to their own strengths.
“We’ll do it our way. Newcastle have done it a different way than what we’ve done it, and I don’t think you can copy other people,” the 54-year-old continued.
“I think what you have to do is recognise your strengths and what you’re trying to achieve and set a system out in place that you think is comfortable for what you need.
“That’s what we’ve done for five years at this football club, or six or seven, I can’t remember how long I’ve been here now. It’s been good, it’s been enjoyable.”
Stoke currently lie safely in mid-table on 42 points, although they remain just four points shy of eighth-place Liverpool.
Pulis is happy to have all but guaranteed their Premier League status for another season, and is now fully focused on a top-half finish.
“Now that we’ve got the points, what we’ve got to do [is] we’ve got to instil that into the players now that we’ve got to finish in the top half, top ten if we can," he said.
“Now we need them to really put their minds at the task of trying to get something at Newcastle.”
Listen to Newcastle vs Stoke City this Saturday 21st April only on Absolute Radio extra - on DAB Digital Radio, 1215AM and online in the UK from 1.30pm. Tune in for the full Tony Pulis interview. For more go to www.absoluteradio.co.uk/football