Potters hope for duo fitness boost

Mark Hughes is hopeful of having Xherdan Shaqiri and Jon Walters fit and available for Saturday’s Premier League visit of West Brom.

Stoke: Potters hope for duo fitness boostStoke: Potters hope for duo fitness boost

The Potters boss has been without Shaqiri since the opening day of the season against Middlesbrough due to a calf injury.

The Swiss international scored his side’s equaliser at the Riverside Stadium and his absence since has been costly for Stoke, who have lost four successive Premier League games since that 1-1 draw and sit bottom of the table with just one point.

But Hughes confirmed in his Friday morning press conference that Shaqiri trained with no problems on Thursday and will be checked with a view to facing the Baggies, who are managed by former City boss Tony Pulis.

Walters also missed Wednesday’s 2-1 EFL Cup home defeat against Hull and trained with strapping on his ankle on Thursday, with Hughes admitting “he is probably a little bit of a doubt”.

Hughes revealed that he has an otherwise clean bill of health as Stoke aim to stop the rot and secure their first win of the campaign.

Speaking about the disappointing start to the season, he said: “We put pressure on ourselves and we are disappointed because we wanted to make a better start.

“There are reasons why we’re conceding and we need to address it. We’re open to criticism which has been brought on by ourselves.

“We haven’t fundamentally changed the group, which finished in the top 10 last season. We have the talent to come through this.”

The Welshman also still believes he is the right man for the job following murmurs that his position is under threat.

Hughes added: “It is to be expected when things aren’t going well. We are always looking forward to try and improve and we wanted to start brightly.

“I think I have proved in my time here that I can take this club in the right direction, which is the top half of the Premier League, which is what I set off to do when I arrived here.”

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