Chelsea game perfect for Stoke, says Hughes

Published 10/26/2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Football – Stoke City v Watford – Barclays Premier League – Britannia Stadium – 24/10/15 Stoke manager Mark Hughes looks dejected Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Jason Cairnduff Livepic


REUTERS – Chelsea are the “perfect” opponents for Stoke City to return to winning ways, manager Mark Hughes said ahead of welcoming the struggling champions in the League Cup on Tuesday.

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The Britannia Stadium is widely acknowledged to be a fortress, but Hughes’ side have lost three of their five home league games this season with just one win.

“The good thing is that we have a big game on Tuesday against Chelsea, and that is the perfect game for us,” the 51-year-old Welshman told reporters.

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Hughes confirmed that captain Ryan Shawcross, who is yet to play this season, has recovered from a back injury after undergoing surgery in August and that there are likely to be changes after the poor performance against Watford in a 2-0 home defeat on Saturday.

“Ryan needs games now, so he’s very much in my thoughts,” the manager told a news conference on Monday.

“We need to get him up to speed after a couple of under-21 games and he’s obviously chomping at the bit. He needs to play games and tomorrow is an opportunity.”

Hughes added that Spanish pair Bojan Krkic and Marc Muniesa were doubtful with minor injuries, while American defender Geoff Cameron will miss the game because of a thigh injury.

League Cup holders Chelsea also need to bounce back after Sunday’s damaging 2-1 defeat at the hands of West Ham United.

They had a man sent off and manager Jose Mourinho and his assistant Silvino Louro were barred from the touchline during the match.

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The club face a mandatory fine from the Football Association for ending the match with six yellow cards and are also likely to be sanctioned after no-one showed up for the post-match news conference.

“He is the best manager the club has ever had,” Hughes said of Mourinho, whose future has been called into question following recent results and controversies.

“Why would they change him? At times he tries to take the pressure off his players by highlighting a referee in a game that takes the attention away from his guys. We have all done that from time to time.”

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(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly/Rex Gowar)

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Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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