Saturday 25 January 2020

Stoke boss Mark Hughes gives backing to goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard

Jakob Haugaard has conceded six goals in two appearances for Stoke
Jakob Haugaard has conceded six goals in two appearances for Stoke

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has once again come out in support of goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard as he considers his selection options for Monday's clash with Tottenham.

Haugaard has replaced the injured Jack Butland in the last two games - his first appearances in the Barclays Premier League - and conceded six goals in the process.

After the first of those matches, a 2-2 home draw with Swansea, Hughes stood by his decision to select the 23-year-old Dane ahead of veteran Shay Given, describing Haugaard's performance as "excellent".

Since then, the 4-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday has led to speculation over whether 39-year-old Given might come into the first XI for the visit of title-chasing Spurs to the Britannia Stadium.

Hughes did not rule out a change but pointed to the example of former Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who conceded five in his first appearance for the club before becoming a star performer, as he gave Haugaard further backing.

"Jakob has had a run in the side and we talked about the game last week," Hughes said.

"We discussed all elements of it and for the most part I have been pleased with what he has done.

"He is a young goalkeeper, and he is learning about the Premier League. You have to experience it before you understand the intensity, so that is why it was right to give him the opportunity.

"Some of the guys were talking about the time that Asmir Begovic started to get games in the Premier League at Stoke. He had difficult games that didn't go quite to plan, but you see how he has come through.

"A little bit of focus has been on that position, but I'm quite comfortable with where we are with it.

"As always, I have the benefit of good goalkeepers in the building, so if I decide to make a change, then I'm quite comfortable with that.

"But at the moment, Jakob needs the experience and the opportunity to play."

Stoke hope to have forward Marko Arnautovic and midfielder Glenn Whelan available for the Tottenham match after they missed the Liverpool defeat due to knee and back problems respectively.

Captain Ryan Shawcross is also expected to be able to feature after he made his return to action at Anfield from a lay-off with a back issue of his own.

But fellow defender Marc Muniesa is a doubt having suffered a knock in training, and full-back Erik Pieters cannot play as he begins a two-match suspension for picking up 10 yellow cards.

Hughes and Pieters exchanged words late in the Liverpool game, with the player substituted shortly after and notably not exchanging so much as a glance with his manager.

Hughes said on Thursday of the incident: "It was just one of those moments in games.

"I have spoken to Erik about it since. It is not an issue. On the day I just felt his performance level wasn't quite where it needed to be, and that is the top and bottom of it really.

"We have talked it through and he understands my position and I understand what he was trying to say on the pitch. We move on."

Hughes added with a smile: "He knows who the boss is."

PA Media

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