| 11.9°C Belfast

Hughes ponders Potters changes


Mark Hughes has a selection headache this weekend

Mark Hughes has a selection headache this weekend

Mark Hughes has a selection headache this weekend

Stoke boss Mark Hughes admits he is weighing up whether to change a winning side ahead of Saturday's visit of Hull.

The Potters are in with a great chance of finishing in the top half of the Barclays Premier League for the first time and are chasing a third successive victory.

Hughes has midfielders Stephen Ireland and Charlie Adam available again but bringing them into the side would mean changing a line-up that triumphed 4-1 at Aston Villa.

"Charlie and Stephen have trained really well over the past week or so, so they do come into my thinking, but the lads who have been in the side over the past week or two have performed exceptionally well," Hughes told the club's website.

"It's a difficult one for me given the options that are available, although that is a nice problem to face to be perfectly honest with you."

Ireland missed the Aston Villa match due to a contractual agreement with his former side while Adam is back from suspension.

Hughes added: "It's a good position to be in because we have a lot of players who are desperate to play and a lot of players who are performing to a very good standard on matchdays, too."

The Stoke boss has, however, ruled out winger Oussama Assaidi returning against Hull following a knee injury.

But defender Erik Pieters is likely to play having recovered from a knock.

"I don't think Ozzie (Assaidi) is going to be available," said Hughes.

"He has been training and is progressing but we just think that it may be too early to consider bringing him back into contention.

"There were a few lads with one or two bumps and bruises earlier in the week with Erik being one of those, but he should be fine come kick-off which is pleasing."

Steve Harper is set to deputise for injured goalkeeper Allan McGregor on Saturday with the Hull number one expected to be ruled out for the rest of the season.

The former Newcastle veteran will fill in for McGregor, who was sent off in the midweek defeat by West Ham and also suffered kidney damage which is likely to end his campaign.

Eldin Jakupovic has been recalled from his loan spell at Leyton Orient to provide cover for Harper, but Tigers boss Steve Bruce does not expect any other new injury concerns.

Hull's win over West Brom last Saturday had edged them closer to safety, but a midweek defeat to West Ham leaves the Tigers needing one more victory to put the seal on a highly successful season for the club, according to Bruce.

But he expects a tough game against a Stoke side still looking to secure their own survival and heading into the game on the back of a thumping win at Villa.

Bruce added: "We're all looking to get to 37 or 38 points and there's big games everywhere you look, and if we play like we did last Saturday, I think we'll be fine.

"It's difficult with back-to-back away games in the Premier League, especially when you've been down to 10 men for an hour, but the resilience and attitude was there for all to see the other night and you just have to dust yourself down and get on with it again."