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Mark Hughes challenges his Stoke side to finish with a flourish

Published 09/04/2016

Mark Hughes' Stoke are pushing for a European place this season.
Mark Hughes' Stoke are pushing for a European place this season.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes feels his side have it in them to win every one of their six remaining Barclays Premier League games this season.

Following their 2-1 home loss to Southampton on March 12, Hughes challenged his Europe-chasing players to go unbeaten through the eight matches they had left.

So far they have responded with a 2-1 win at Watford and last Saturday's 2-2 draw with Swansea at the Britannia Stadium, which they had led 2-0 with less than half an hour to go.

Next up are Liverpool away on Sunday, followed by a home clash with Tottenham and a trip to Manchester City.

Stoke then host Sunderland and West Ham either side of travelling to Crystal Palace.

And Hughes, whose men have won four and drawn two of their last seven games, said ahead of Sunday's contest: "Ideally we would love six wins.

"How realistic that is we don't really know, but we have the potential to do that.

"It is a tough ask. We have tough games.

"But our intention is to try to win every one of them and see how far that takes us. We want to finish the season as strongly as we can."

Last weekend's action left Stoke - ninth at the end of both their two seasons so far under Hughes - in eighth place.

Regarding the push for a European berth, Hughes added: "It is something we aspire to and want to achieve.

"It is all about setting realistic targets at the beginning of the year and seeing how close to them you can get.

"Europe was one we always felt if we had a good run at we'd go close to.

"And, if we miss out this year, we'll have a real go again next year, because that is where we hope the club will be in the future - always pushing for European places."

Stoke have not won away in the league against Liverpool - who started this weekend a place and two points worse off than the Potters, with eight more top-flight games to play - since 1959.

They did, though, in January win 1-0 on the night at Anfield in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against the Reds before losing the tie on penalties.

They will have skipper Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri back available when they go in search of another victory at the ground on Sunday, but Glenn Whelan and Marko Arnautovic are doubts.

Defender Shawcross and winger Shaqiri are each set for their first appearance in three games after recovering from back and thigh problems respectively.

Midfielder Whelan sustained a back issue of his own last week getting out of his car that then forced him off against Swansea, a match which also saw forward Arnautovic pick up a knee injury.

Goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard, who made his Premier League debut in that contest, is set to remain in the first XI.

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