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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Mark Hughes feels Stoke are back on track after West Brom win

Stoke manager Mark Hughes
Stoke manager Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes believes Stoke are back on track heading into Christmas following their home victory against West Brom.

Five defeats in the previous six fixtures had dragged the Potters towards the relegation zone but Saturday's 3-1 win ended a three-match losing run and was just a second success in nine Premier League games.

Hughes' four years as manager brought three successive ninth-placed finishes, before a drop down to 13th in the table last season.

The Welshman thinks Stoke should be one of the clubs competing to finish in the top 10 and the win against West Brom keeps them in contention to do so once more.

"Those are the standards that we set ourselves before the season begins and for whatever reasons we have struggled to get points on the board as regularly as we have in other seasons, b ut it is our intention to address that," said Hughes.

"It's not as if we have tailed off, we are very much near the area that we want to be in - just three points off the team in 10th place.

"If we get a fair run now in terms of injuries, because (against West Brom) we were stretched defensively in terms of the players I had available, and a little bit of luck then hopefully we can push on and move up the table."

Stoke's defensive problems meant a full home debut for 18-year-old Tom Edwards, while central defender Kevin Wimmer was used as a makeshift left-back.

And Hughes could have to set his team up that way again at Huddersfield on Boxing Day if Erik Pieters does not recover from the injury that forced him off against West Ham and subsequently saw the full-back sidelined on Saturday.

Glen Johnson (knee) has been training and could be back involved but Bruno Martins Indi is still recovering from his groin injury while Jese Rodriguez is working on getting back up to speed having returned after spending time in Gran Canaria with his ill son.

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