Belfast Telegraph

Hughes: Fitting that Walters won it

Stoke boss Mark Hughes labelled Jonathan Walters "a credit to his profession" after the forward notched a hat-trick to steer the Potters to a 3-1 home win over QPR.

Walters marked his 200th appearance for the Staffordshire outfit by striking in the 21st and 34th minutes to put them 2-0 up before adding a stoppage-time header to wrap up the victory.

It was the first Barclays Premier League hat-trick ever scored by a Stoke player and came on the day they celebrated club icon Sir Stanley Matthews, 24 hours before what would have been his 100th birthday.

Current hero Walters now has 10 goals in all competitions this season, and Hughes said of the 31-year-old: "At the end it was fitting that Jon scored his third goal to take the game away from them because I thought on the day he was magnificent and a credit to his profession.

"He gives everything, every game, and on his 200th game it was fitting he won it for us."

Asked whether Walters will be getting a new contract - his current deal expires in the summer - Hughes said: "Well, he is going the right way about it!

"I'm sure there will be discussions nearer the time. But I'm just delighted for him - he probably doesn't get enough credit for what he does on the field of play, and his determination and effort to get everything out of his body and his ability is second to none. I am really pleased for him."

Walters has spent time out of the first XI this term, and Hughes added: "I think he has a freshness in his play now. He has been in and out the team, but when he comes in, he gives everything and always has an impact for us.

"I think he is benefitting from understanding he can't play week in week out if he is going to be the best he can be."

Stoke's win - their fourth in six league games - lifts them to ninth in the table, while struggling QPR remain 19th, a point adrift of safety, and still yet to register anything other than a loss on the road this term.

This was an 11th defeat from 11 top-flight matches in 2014/15 for the Londoners, but their manager Harry Redknapp insisted afterwards he was encouraged by the performance and believes they will not be relegated.

Redknapp - whose side made it 2-1 in the 36th minute through Niko Kranjcar and hit the bar in the second half via skipper Joey Barton's free-kick, but were punished throughout by Stoke for defensive sloppiness - said: "3-1 looks like you were well beaten, but that wasn't the case.

"But we make individual errors and it costs you.

"At 2-1 at half-time, I thought we could go on and win the game, I really did - and I said that to the players. I said 'I wouldn't take a draw'.

"In the second half we battered away, but we just couldn't get the goal. If we had got the one, I think we would have gone on and won. But I couldn't have asked for more effort than they gave.

"I'm encouraged by it. I know where we are and what we need to do, and I still think we have every chance. I still think we're capable of getting out of trouble."

Asked about the possibility of bringing in new players before the transfer window closes on Monday night, Redknapp said: "It's hard - I couldn't say we are definitely going to get anyone in before the deadline.

"We're trying, but it's not easy to find players in this window, especially this late."

Redknapp said there had been no developments in terms of any pursuit of Wolves forward Bakary Sako, and when asked about Tottenham frontman Emmanuel Adebayor, he said: "I don't know if it's a possibility.

"He would do us, that is for sure, but whether there is a chance I honestly don't know."

Hughes, meanwhile, said Spurs winger Aaron Lennon "has been mentioned" with regard to potential Stoke dealings, but added: "I don't think that one is going to happen for us."

And he said: "I don't anticipate there being too much happening to be honest.

"We have been close to a number of players during the month, but for the most part they have all fallen by the wayside.

"At this point, I'd be surprised if we do anything before the deadline."

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