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The Potters' boss believes that in order for the club to progress and build upon its promising recent league form, Stoke needs to keep hold of the squad's core.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has ruled out the likelihood of the club selling any key players during the January transfer window, after Asmir Begovic was linked with a move away from the Britannia Stadium.

Having started the new league campaign in stuttering form, drawing each of their first four games, the Potters have flown up the table in recent weeks to ninth, winning four of their last five. A major part of their upturn in form has been their defensive solidity, keeping seven clean sheets and letting in just 12 goals in their opening 15 games, with only champions Manchester City conceding less.

A result of this has seen goalkeeper Asmir Begovic linked with moves to both Liverpool and Manchester United, but Pulis has denied that he has even contemplated letting any regular first-team players go in the transfer window, instead insisting that the aim is to add to the squad.

"You can talk as much as you want, though one thing I will say is that it is a big year for us this year, and we will not be selling any of our better players in the January window, and that is full stop," Pulis told reporters. "It is a massive year for every club in the Premier League and this football club realizes and recognizes that.

"You hope you get interest, because it shows the player is playing really well. But there will be no sales. We will be looking to bring one or two in, but there will be no sales of any of the big players at this football club during the window."

The Potters boss remains hopeful of welcoming back Peter Crouch to the side against Aston Villa on Saturday, after he missed their 1-0 win at West Brom after being involved in a nasty collision with Newcastle center back Fabricio Coloccini that saw him lose a number of teeth.

"Peter went down to London yesterday to have a guard fitted in his mouth, and hopefully that will help him," Pulis said. "He will train with the rest of the lads today [Thursday] with it fitted, and we will see how he goes.

"We are hoping it protects him enough so that we can include him in the squad in some capacity at the weekend. He was desperate to be involved against West Brom last weekend, but we were advised against doing so. Hopefully though, we can have him back for selection against Villa."

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