Friday 15 December 2017

Stoke boss Mark Hughes says super-sub Peter Crouch could soon be Plan A

Stoke's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Leicester
Stoke's Peter Crouch celebrates scoring his side's second goal against Leicester

Stoke manager Mark Hughes admits he will soon have to start playing Peter Crouch from the beginning of matches if the veteran striker keeps scoring from the bench.

The 36-year-old came on to score as a substitute for the third time this season in the Premier League on Saturday as his header earned Stoke a 2-2 draw with Leicester at the bet365 Stadium.

Crouch's powerful downward header from a Xherdan Shaqiri corner after 73 minutes followed up his winning goal from the bench against Southampton last month. He also earned Hughes' side a point at West Brom in August following his introduction as a substitute.

"He's not a bad option, is he?" said Hughes. " The big man has come on again and done what he always does, which is make an impact.

"Peter's quality and attributes are there for all to see. He came on and was a real threat and he gave them something else to think about and we changed things about and were a threat from that point onwards.

"He can still score at this level because physically he's in the right place and is engaged in the game. I thought he was exceptional in his general play as well, not just the great goal he scored.

"Everybody says he's Plan B, but if he continues he will be Plan A. I must say, he's doing nothing wrong."

Crouch's goal, his fourth of the season having also scored against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup, a game which he started, saw Stoke peg back Leicester for the second time after Shaqiri had equalised in the first half.

Vicente Iborra's first goal in English football gave Leicester a deserved lead, which Riyad Mahrez restored on the hour mark.

Hughes was pleased with the character his steam showed, he said: "The least we deserved, given our determination and battling qualities, was a draw but we could have won it at the end.

"We showed character to come back twice because being in front is the ideal scenario for Leicester, as with the players they have they can then hit you on the counter attack."

Leicester created the better and more frequent chances to score and while Claude Puel was disappointed not to make it two wins from his first two matches in charge, the Foxes boss felt there were plenty of positives to take forward.

"I don't know if a draw is fair because we created a lot of chances and perhaps we deserved more, although right at the end we could have lost and it is a good save by Kasper (Schmeichel)," said Puel.

"It is an encouraging game and we can keep the spirit going forward, keep the good dynamic, but it is perhaps disappointing because of all the chances we had.

"I am happy with the attitude and intensity and passion. We had a lot of chances away (from home) and a lot of play in the game and it is encouraging for the future. But i t is a pity we couldn't be more clinical and get the game for us."

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