Sport Soccer

Friday 9 December 2016

Mark Hughes happy to see Marko Arnautovic concentrate on football

Published 28/02/2016 | 13:16

Marko Arnautovic's two goals against Aston Villa took him into double figures for the season
Marko Arnautovic's two goals against Aston Villa took him into double figures for the season

Stoke manager Mark Hughes is pleased Marko Arnautovic is concentrating on his football, rather than becoming sidetracked by contract talks.

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Arnautovic's representatives have been in negotiations with the club for some time about extending the big Austrian's stay at the Britannia Stadium but it is not a distraction for the player.

On Saturday the 26-year-old, whose existing deals runs until the summer of 2017, marked his 100th appearance for Stoke with both goals, the first from the penalty spot, in a 2-1 home win against Aston Villa.

The double moved Arnautovic on to 10 goals for the season - his most prolific return since joining Hughes' team for an undisclosed seven-figure fee from German side Werder Bremen in September 2013.

"I think he's just prepared to play his football and let other people have conversations about (his contract). When the time comes he will sit down," said Hughes.

"And that's the right attitude. He wants to concentrate on his football and when it needs to be signed it will be.

" Marko is doing really well. Since he's come here, we have talked about his ability, power and pace. The one thing lacking in the last two seasons has been a goal threat and he's added that this year.

"If he wants to be the player he tells everyone he wants to be, he's got to add that and he's done that this year.

"He's getting a good return of goals. I think it's his best return since he's been at the club. The two goals take him to double figures."

Villa arrived in the Potteries looking to make amends for their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool last time out - the club's worst home loss in 81 years.

It was perhaps a surprise to see manager Remi Garde make only one change to that team, with Alan Hutton replacing Micah Richards in defence, but the Frenchman did get a positive response from his players, even if ultimately the game ended in another defeat.

And Garde felt justified in his selection, saying: " I have choices to make - sometimes, when I have enough players to do so.

"Micah has played some games. He hasn't played (on Saturday) but we have three games in a week and I have some players who cannot do so. Everybody will have his chance.

"But I think the way the team behaves (against Stoke) gives me reason not to make too many changes, because I think in terms of spirit the same players responded very well. I don't think I have too much choice, secondly."

The loss leaves Villa bottom of the table and still eight points from safety but Garde tried to remain upbeat.

"There are still 11 games to play. R esults for our direct rivals were not bad for us. But I always say the same, I'm not looking at our rivals. There are still a lot of points to play for," he said.

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