Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes hopes to take Stoke back into Europe

Stoke boss Mark Hughes wants to guide the Potters back into Europe as he prepares for his 400th Premier League match as a manager.

The Potters host Southampton on Wednesday with Hughes also just seven games short of 500 matches as a club chief.

He started with Blackburn in 2004 and qualified for Europe in his second season in charge and is eager to repeat the trick at the Britannia Stadium within his next 100 matches.

"Yes, for clubs at our level that is the immediate aim," said Hughes, who was also Wales manager between 1999 and 2004.

"There are a number of clubs, not least the one we're going up against on Wednesday, who have been able to show that with good management and good structure you can get up to the top end of the Premier League and get into Europe.

"We've all got ambitions and I'm at a club now where we feel we haven't achieved what we're capable of yet.

"T he hope is that maybe in 100 games - it might take a little bit longer or it might take a little bit less - we will be able to push this club to levels that they haven't been to for quite some time."

Hughes moved to Manchester City in 2008, just before Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the club. A season at Fulham and an ill-fated spell with QPR in 2012 followed.

He has been with Stoke since May 2013, managing 151 games in all competitions, but believes British managers in the top flight are a dying breed.

"I just think it's very difficult for them to be given opportunities," he said.

"Probably the career pathway to be able to get into the Premier League as a British manager now needs to lead from a promotion from the Championship.

"To be appointed straight into Premier League level is more difficult and I feel it's becoming harder and harder."

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