Friday 13 December 2019

Stoke hope Mame Biram Diouf fit for Leicester after Senegal duty

Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City celebrates scoring the opening goal against Manchester City
Mame Biram Diouf of Stoke City celebrates scoring the opening goal against Manchester City

Phil Medlicott

Stoke boss Mark Hughes hopes Mame Biram Diouf has returned from his Senegal commitments in decent condition to face Leicester on Saturday.

Diouf scored an eye-catching solo effort to steer the Potters to a shock 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory at reigning champions Manchester City on August 30.

Since then the forward has been on Senegal duty for African Nations Cup qualifiers at home against Egypt last Friday and then in Botswana on Wednesday.

Having only returned from his considerable travels to Stoke's training ground on Friday, Diouf will not have had a chance to do a session with his team-mates ahead of Saturday's league game.

And Hughes said at his pre-match press conference at the Britannia Stadium on Friday afternoon: "Mame Diouf was walking into the training ground as I left, funnily enough, so I had a chance to speak to him.

"By all accounts he is okay, but we have to make a judgement on him just to see how he is physically, and mentally, in terms of the amount of travelling he has done and how that will affect his approach to the game.

"We will get a feeling for that before the game and then I'll make a decision as to whether he plays or not."

The win against City was Stoke's first in the league of the season following a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa and then a 1-1 draw at Hull.

Hughes has no doubt it is best to head into an international break off the back of a victory, but is frustrated that the domestic hiatus came along when his side were gathering some momentum.

"Obviously the breaks are in the season, you know they are coming and you have to make the best of it," Hughes said.

"The best way to go into an international break is with a positive result. It is a lot easier to take when you have played well and got maximum points - then everyone goes away in good heart.

"It is slightly different if you have a poor performance, you have been beaten and then all of a sudden people are flying all over the world and you have no time to review what went on or address some of the issues the game brought up.

"So we had the better of that this time having won at Man City, but it is a little bit frustrating for everybody because it is a little bit fragmented at the moment.

"The season needs to get up and running, but after only three games, we are having international breaks."

Hughes nonetheless believes the City victory will have set his players in good stead for the Leicester contest, although he sees the desire to make up for a poor home performance in the Villa match as a greater motivator ahead of Saturday's fixture.

The Welshman said: "I think we can use (the City game) by saying that is the standard in terms of committing to what we are trying to do. We have set the bar.

"But I think the fact that our last home league game was a little bit flat from our point of view, when there had been a lot of expectation on us before it and on the day Villa were the better team - I think we will use that as more of a motivation than possibly the Man City game for this one."

Winger Oussama Assaidi is in contention to make his 'second debut' for Stoke on Saturday after rejoining on another season-long loan deal from Liverpool on transfer deadline day. Midfielder Stephen Ireland (rib) looks set to miss out along with Geoff Cameron (hernia) and Peter Odemwingie (knee), both of whom have undergone surgery.

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