Monday 11 December 2017

Bojan Krkic has confidence in Stoke - Mark Hughes

Bojan Krkic has declared himself
Bojan Krkic has declared himself "very happy" at Stoke

Stoke manager Mark Hughes does not fear losing Bojan Krkic next month because he believes the forward has finally found happiness in the Potteries.

The 25-year-old's name has started to crop up in transfer speculation stories ahead of the January transfer window after a string of impressive performances since his return to fitness in September.

However, Hughes insists the fact Bojan has sampled life at European giants Barcelona, Roma and AC Milan - and failed to establish himself with those sides - will make him less likely to jump ship if a bigger club come calling.

The Spaniard declared himself "very happy" in an interview with The Sentinel earlier this week and Hughes thinks that has contributed towards his fine form.

"It's a couple of weeks before the bonkers season; we're very near to January so these stories start to raise their head," the Welshman said of transfer rumours.

"It doesn't surprise me, I don't think it's with any foundation. Bojan is an exceptional talent. Is there going to be interest? Possibly. But we wouldn't encourage it.

"If you look at what Bojan has said this week to other media outlets, he's said he's very, very happy here. A big part of why he's doing well is the confidence that he has in the club, the team, the people around him.

"That allows him to perform and he's been to other clubs, big clubs in Europe, he's done that and didn't quite find what he's found here. He's quite happy at the moment so I don't think he's agitating for a move in January certainly."

While Bojan's immediate future in Staffordshire looks assured, the Potters are also working on deals to tie down Marko Arnautovic and Erik Pieters for the long term.

"The fact that talks have started, I'm pleased with that," Hughes added.

"I want the two boys to be here for a significant length of time. It's important. They are key players in terms of what we're trying to do here, so it would be good to get them signed up again."

The Potters play Crystal Palace on Saturday and Arnautovic and Bojan could once again form two thirds of the attacking trio that dismantled title-chasing Manchester City in Stoke's last home game.

Xherdan Shaqiri, whose man-of-the-match performance against City drew plaudits, was the missing piece against West Ham in a 0-0 draw last weekend, but his possible return from a hamstring injury could allow Hughes to utilise his three-pronged attack once more.

"Shaq's okay," Hughes said. "He's had a couple of training sessions, we'll check him again tomorrow and make sure there's no reaction. At the moment, touch wood, he's okay."

Midfielder Geoff Cameron will be missing because of a hamstring strain, though, and Phil Bardsley and Stephen Ireland are both doubts because of back and hamstring ailments.

Press Association

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