Stoke boss Hughes full of praise for 'invaluable' Crouch
Mark Hughes hinted the evergreen Peter Crouch could earn another new Stoke contract after he came off the bench to net the winner against former club Southampton.
It had looked as though the Potters would rue Saido Berahino's fourth successive penalty miss when Maya Yoshida's volley cancelled out Mame Diouf's header, but 36-year-old Crouch saved the day five minutes from time in a 2-1 win.
Crouch, who joined Stoke for £10million in 2011, penned a contract extension until next summer earlier this year and Hughes has indicated a willingness to discuss fresh terms, despite the fact he will turn 38 in 2019.
"It wasn't a big decision (to offer him a new contract last season) because we know what he can bring," Hughes said.
"If he continues in the same vein, we will be having a similar discussion some time this year as well because his physical attributes haven't waned.
"He's still doing things he was doing at 26, 27 and as long as he does he will remain effective at this level.
"Crouchy is invaluable. He's a great guy, a fantastic personality to have within your club. He's been doing that kind of thing all through his career.
"I probably frustrate him on occasions because he still wants to start and I keep him back to have an impact, but when he comes on late in games he will always affect opposition defences."
Crouch came on for Berahino 20 minutes from time after the ex-West Brom forward saw a first-half penalty he won off Virgil van Dijk saved by Fraser Forster.
It is now 32 games without a goal for Berahino, dating back to February 2016 when he was still with the Baggies, and he has had three penalties saved and another which he missed the target with during that drought.
"He showed personality and showed responsibility, grabbing the ball and we were all willing him to score," Hughes added.
"He's working hard and is just trying to get a break. Once it comes he will be off and running. That initial goal for us is a little bit elusive, unfortunately.
"Something will hit his shin, knee or backside, who knows? When it comes that will get him off and running I'm sure."
Southampton have won just twice in manager Mauricio Pellegrino's first eight games and have scored only seven in their previous 14 games dating back to last April.
Yet Pellegrino does not believe their issues in front of goal are psychological.
"In football when you work with a group of people, when you're right it's about a lot of things, when you're wrong it's the same," he said.
"When the team doesn't get results it's not about one thing, about a lot of things.
"I can't say any more about our character and energy, but it's the same as the other day. We played well but we come back with zero points."
Pellegrino handed Liverpool target Van Dijk a first start since he tried unsuccessfully to force through a move over the summer and, apart from tripping Berahino for the penalty, the Dutchman was outstanding.
"I think he was okay, it's not easy to come back after a long period of time," Pellegrino added.
"He was focused and his timing of interceptions was good."
Van Dijk has previously been Saints skipper, but Pellegrino has said he must earn back the honour and the armband was switched to Yoshida when incumbent Steven Davis was substituted during the second half.