Belfast Telegraph

Hughes expecting quiet January

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is anticipating a fairly quiet January transfer window for the club as their efforts to tie Peter Crouch and Glenn Whelan to new contracts continue.

Both 33-year-old striker Crouch - scorer of two goals in his last two games, taking his tally for the season to five - and midfielder Whelan, 30, are currently on deals with the Potters that run out next summer.

And speaking at a press conference ahead of Monday's Barclays Premier League home clash with table-toppers Chelsea, Hughes expressed his desire to retain the pair.

Asked if he wanted Crouch to stay, the Welshman said: "That is our intention and Peter knows that I'm keen to do something.

"There have been discussions already.

"If we tried to replace Peter, it would be very difficult and require a significant outlay.

"It is in our interest to try to re-contract him if we can, because he is a big part of what we do here.

"His age is not an issue in my view because he is a player whose strengths are not based on pace, and his other attributes are likely to remain with him for any number of seasons after this one.

"So where he is in his career is still a good place, and he is an important player for us."

Hughes added that an offer has been made to Whelan which the Republic of Ireland international is yet to respond to.

"There is something on the table for Glenn," the manager said.

"There was earlier on in the season, and there will be more discussions about that."

Hughes has stressed there is no will on his part to let potential suitors get hold of any of his key players next month, and he is not expecting any such situation to occur.

"We have to make sure Stoke City are strong, and that means we don't let anybody leave, even if there is a real interest or situations that might develop," Hughes, whose side are currently 12th in the league, said.

"We are not anticipating anybody leaving - it is not what we are looking to do really."

Hughes also played down the prospect of any major recruitment, and emphasised only significant new injury setbacks might affect Stoke's present thoughts on the sort of business they might do.

"If an opportunity comes about that we think is right - is at the right level for us and we think is realistic and we might be able to do something - then we will pursue it," he said.

"But we haven't done a great deal of business in January - we didn't last year.

"Peter Odemwingie came in, so it can be something to look at. But in terms of spending significant amounts of money on players in January, I don't anticipate that will happen."

Hughes did confirm that Stoke winger Brek Shea, who has made only five appearances for the club since joining them in January 2013, is set to return to his native United States to join Orlando City.

And there have been discussions about extending Potters defender Andy Wilkinson's loan at Millwall until the end of the season, which Hughes feels would "make sense".

Meanwhile, it looks as if forward Bojan Krkic will be fit for Monday night's game.

Bojan, a stand-out performer for Stoke over the last few weeks, sustained a hip injury in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.

Hughes said of the Spaniard at Thursday's press conference: "It is a little bit early, but he has trained today and yesterday and we don't anticipate there will be any problems.

"He is still a little sore given where the injury was, but we fully expect he will be okay."

Defender Marc Muniesa will be available having recovered from his hamstring problem, while Hughes is optimistic a knee problem picked up by Stephen Ireland will not keep the midfielder out.

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