Sunday 21 January 2018

Mark Hughes remaining confident despite Stoke's poor start to the season

Mark Hughes' Stoke are still yet to win a Barclays Premier League game this season.
Mark Hughes' Stoke are still yet to win a Barclays Premier League game this season.

Mark Hughes remains confident about Stoke's prospects despite them having made their worst ever start to a Barclays Premier League season.

Hughes' men head into Saturday's home clash against Bournemouth having taken only three points from their six league games so far, and they are still looking for their first top-flight win of 2015-16.

The Welshman has no doubt a points boost is required swiftly, but is not panicking about what he has seen so far.

"I don't think our performances are too much of a concern," Hughes said.

"We haven't got as many points as we would like, but for the most part I have been reasonably happy with the main part of our performances.

"If we look back we can maybe console ourselves in terms of what we produced in some of the games, even though we have also made individual errors.

"We view ourselves as a middle-to-top team in the Premier League, and at some point in the season you will get a run where you go four, five, six games without a win.

"It is about the end of the season, and we are confident.

"We know we are a good side at this level, and hopefully we'll get the points on the board that our performances merit, starting tomorrow."

Hughes has guided Stoke to ninth-placed finishes - the highest they have come in the Premier League - in both of his two seasons in charge so far and insists something similar this term is still very much the aim, even as they sit 18th at the present time.

He has pointed to the fact the Potters went through a couple of significant winless runs in their first campaign under him, and added: "We are a little bit behind, but not by much and we can make up the difference. We have plenty of time."

Hughes has also cited new players having to adjust as a factor in Stoke's slow start, as well as the absence of captain Ryan Shawcross, who is yet to feature this season but is progressing well in his recovery from back surgery.

"He is a big player for us," Hughes said.

"Losing your captain will have an obvious effect on the team.

"The good news is he's training really well and we are hopeful maybe in the next couple of weeks he will get some game time with the development teams and in games in-house."

Other than Shawcross being unavailable and fellow defender Marc Wilson (calf) being a doubt, Hughes has a fully-fit squad and is likely to restore some of those who sat out Tuesday's cup victory at Fulham, including key forward Bojan Krkic.

Striker Mame Diouf has recovered from hamstring and groin problems, while midfielder Charlie Adam has completed his suspension.

Meanwhile, Hughes has reported no further developments in Stoke's contract talks with forward Jonathan Walters, whose current deal runs out next summer.

It is understood Walters wants a deal through to 2018 but has so far only been offered a one-year deal.

Press Association

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