Belfast Telegraph

Misfiring Berahino will come good, says Stoke boss Hughes

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is confident Saido Berahino is on the way back to his best, even as the striker searches for his first goal in 14 months.

Berahino's lean spell dates back to last February, when he netted West Brom's final goal in a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace, and a move to the Potters has yet to herald a change in fortunes.

After a spell out of favour at the Hawthorns, then an eight-week ban after testing positive for recreational drugs, Hughes built a certain amount of leeway into his expectations for the 23-year-old and does not expect to see his best work until next term.

A goal would speed the process along nicely, but when his best chance in nine appearances arrived against Liverpool last weekend, Reds keeper Simon Mignolet pulled off a save-of-the-season contender.

"Opportunities for him personally have been at a premium, I have to say," Hughes told talkSPORT ahead of his side's Premier League clash with Hull.

"Against Liverpool he had a great opportunity, did everything right and Mignolet made an outstanding save to thwart him.

"All strikers need a goal to get up and running when they're at a new club and he's striving to do that, but we've been really pleased with the work he's doing on and off the field, training really well. He wants to get back on track and we feel we're the right club for him.

"I think when Saido joined I said our expectation from the outset was more for next year. This year it's about getting back on track and back playing games."

Berahino was once valued at more than double the reported £12million Stoke paid for him, a measure of the question marks that have surrounded the player's application of his abilities in the recent past.

Hughes did not go into the deal blind, though, insisting the club have asked all the right questions and received satisfactory answers.

"It's been a difficult period for him on and off the field and what he wants to do is put everything behind him and get on with what he's paid to do - and that's be a top-level football player," said Hughes.

"That focus is back now and we've been really pleased with his attitude.

"We obviously do our checks, our due diligence, and we knew he was a decent lad. We didn't think his personality would be a risk bringing him in to the group and we haven't been disappointed in that regard. The key for him now is to get up and running, scoring goals and being the player he has the capability of being."

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