Odemwingie form pleases Hughes
Published 11/02/2014 | 18:22
Stoke manager Mark Hughes is backing Peter Odemwingie to find a new lease of life after the striker finally ended his goal drought at the weekend.
At the end of the January transfer window, Hughes signed Odemwingie from Cardiff in a swap deal which saw Kenwyne Jones head to south Wales.
The 32-year-old striker opened his account for the Potters in a 2-2 draw at Southampton on Saturday, his first goal for four months and in 16 matches.
Ahead of Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium with Swansea, who were linked with a move for Odemwingie last summer, Hughes believes the Nigerian has been a breath of fresh air.
"We have been really pleased with him since he came in," said Hughes.
"He is a good personality. He's certainly added to the team and the group, and his goal at the weekend showed what he brings to the table in an area where we were lacking.
"He is a player who is prepared to run in behind with pace, and then have a cool head and the ability to take chances when presented.
"All in all we have been very pleased with what he has produced.
"He has only had three games with us, so he is going to get better the more games he plays.
"But the initial reaction, with what he brings to the party, is really good."
Given the situation in the bottom half of the table, with 11 clubs separated by just seven points, Hughes knows every game against one of those teams is vital.
With Swansea leading that pack of 11 in 10th place, and with Stoke a point adrift, the game is one of those City must not lose if they are to steer clear of relegation.
"It's important because they are in and around us, one point away," assessed Hughes.
"Because of the way the league is, with so many teams in and around the same area, the same points total, you need to take points off those teams.
"That's the situation we have in front of us, and against a Swansea side that had a good result at the weekend (beating Cardiff 3-0).
"But we feel we're in decent form after beating Manchester United last time out at the Britannia and putting in a good performance at Southampton.
"So we're obviously now looking to build on that."
Hughes is likely to be without strikers Marko Arnautovic (ankle) and Oussama Assaidi (hamstring), along with centre-back Robert Huth (knee), but Marc Wilson is poised to return after illness.
Meanwhile, Garry Monk has told his Swansea players Wednesday's trip is a more important game than Saturday's south Wales derby.
Monk's tenure in charge following Michael Laudrup's sacking could hardly have started better, as the Swans eased to a handsome 3-0 win over near-neighbours Cardiff.
The result moved the Swans four points clear of the bottom three, and into the top half of the Barclays Premier League table.
But there is little time to dwell on the derby triumph with a trip to the Britannia Stadium - where Swansea have lost on their two Premier League visits - looming.
And Monk admits the application his side show against the Potters will tell him more than the one-off atmosphere of a derby.
"Last weekend was Cardiff, the big rivals, but if anything the game at Stoke is even bigger," he said.
"We managed to do the first part of the job right against Cardiff and this is probably the most important game out of the two in terms of continuing that momentum and making sure it isn't just a one-off.
"You always worry after a massive game like that with everything that was on it, if mentally it takes it out of the players for the next game, especially when there is such a short space of time.
"But, looking at them in training, they know their job, know they have to remain focused and need to win the points."
Swansea's previous visits to face the Potters both ended in 2-0 defeats, with Peter Crouch netting three of the four goals conceded.
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