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Mark Hughes: Stoke players desperate to right wrongs of FA Cup exit

Published 13/01/2017

Stoke manager Mark Hughes wants a reaction from his players against Sunderland
Stoke manager Mark Hughes wants a reaction from his players against Sunderland

Stoke manager Mark Hughes expects a response from his side when they resume Premier League action at Sunderland on Saturday.

Hughes watched his team exit the FA Cup with barely a whimper at home to Wolves last weekend, losing 2-0 to the Sky Bet Championship club.

Stoke's first-half showing angered Hughes although he felt his players improved in the second half, when a handful of decent saves from Carl Ikeme kept them at bay.

The Potters head to the north east with only one win from their last six league games and Hughes feels more urgency as a defensive unit holds the key to improving that record and getting back on track.

''We didn't perform to the level that we needed to last week, despite me picking a side that was more than capable of winning the game,'' said Hughes.

''I have spoken about it with them this week, and as we have seen before, on the back of poor performances we more often than not bounce straight back.

''There are some frustrations within our building because of what happened last weekend and the guys are desperate to put those wrongs to right.

''Sunderland have struggled defensively and we have threats that can hurt them. But we need to be solid though because we have been a little slow in our defensive work, in terms of defending from the front. However, it is right across the board where we need to improve, not just the back line.

''I fully expect us to show a response tomorrow, although I acknowledge the difficulties facing us.''

The difficulties Hughes refers to includes his list of absentees. Striker Jonathan Walters is set for an extended spell on the sidelines after undergoing a knee operation.

The Republic of Ireland international has played through the pain barrier recently but the persistent problem has forced Walters to have surgery in an attempt to resolve the issue - something that will deprive Hughes of the 33-year-old for a few weeks.

''We are missing Jonny Walters unfortunately, who is suffering a problem with his knee. As a consequence of that he is going to be missing for a little bit, so that leaves us short up front,'' said Hughes.

Bojan will also miss out on Saturday with a hip issue while Ramadan Sobhi, Wilfried Bony and Mame Biram Diouf remain away on African Nations Cup duty.

Those absences mean teenager Julien Ngoy will be involved again while Marc Muniesa and Phil Bardsley are in contention after a week's training.

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