Stoke boss Mark Hughes wary of Aston Villa striker Rudy Gestede's aerial threat
Mark Hughes hopes his Stoke side deal with the aerial threat of Rudy Gestede at Aston Villa on Saturday much better than they did earlier this year.
The French striker, playing for Blackburn at the time, caused Stoke countless problems in February as they crashed out of the FA Cup in the fifth round, losing 4-1 to the Championship club at Ewood Park.
Gestede scored from the penalty spot but that day played second fiddle to strike partner Josh King, who scored a hat-trick.
However, he tormented Hughes' team enough to make the Welshman warn his players ahead of this weekend's Barclays Premier League fixture.
"He's exceptional in the air and we had experience of him against Blackburn in the cup last year when he caused us untold problems," said Hughes.
"So we are very aware of what he can do. The key is to defend properly, but stop the supply line at source because he's benefited from fantastic balls and he will attack anything coming into your box.
"But he's not the only threat. Villa maybe haven't started as they would have liked but they've still got a lot of talent and pace in key areas.
"So we will have to be ready for their challenge."
Hughes could be without Xherdan Shaqiri at Villa Park.
The £12million record signing suffered a thigh injury against Bournemouth and has yet to train this week.
Asked if the Swiss midfielder's chances were 50-50, the Stoke boss said: "Yes, it's safe to say that. If he's going to give himself a chance to be selected he's got to train on Friday.
"We will give him a bit more time and possibly he might join in on Friday and, if he does, he puts himself in the frame."
Captain Ryan Shawcross resumed training on Thursday with the youth players.
The central defender has been sidelined since undergoing surgery on a long-term back problem in the late summer and it is hoped he will be back in first-team contention at Swansea after the international break.
Hughes said: "Ryan probably could have joined in with us, but with our minds focused on preparing for the game at the weekend we felt he would be best served working with the academy.
"It's really encouraging to see him back out on the pitches again, and hopefully we can step it up even further in the next week or so."