Belfast Telegraph

Hughes to make late Diouf call

Stoke boss Mark Hughes hopes Mame Biram Diouf has returned from his Senegal commitments in decent condition to face Leicester on Saturday.

Diouf scored an eye-catching solo effort to steer the Potters to a shock 1-0 Barclays Premier League victory at reigning champions Manchester City on August 30.

Since then the forward has been on Senegal duty for African Nations Cup qualifiers at home against Egypt last Friday and then in Botswana on Wednesday.

Having only returned from his considerable travels to Stoke's training ground on Friday, Diouf will not have had a chance to do a session with his team-mates ahead of Saturday's league game.

And Hughes said at his pre-match press conference at the Britannia Stadium on Friday afternoon: "Mame Diouf was walking into the training ground as I left, funnily enough, so I had a chance to speak to him.

"By all accounts he is okay, but we have to make a judgement on him just to see how he is physically, and mentally, in terms of the amount of travelling he has done and how that will affect his approach to the game.

"We will get a feeling for that before the game and then I'll make a decision as to whether he plays or not."

The win against City was Stoke's first in the league of the season following a 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa and then a 1-1 draw at Hull.

Hughes has no doubt it is best to head into an international break off the back of a victory, but is frustrated that the domestic hiatus came along when his side were gathering some momentum.

"Obviously the breaks are in the season, you know they are coming and you have to make the best of it," Hughes said.

"The best way to go into an international break is with a positive result. It is a lot easier to take when you have played well and got maximum points - then everyone goes away in good heart.

"It is slightly different if you have a poor performance, you have been beaten and then all of a sudden people are flying all over the world and you have no time to review what went on or address some of the issues the game brought up.

"So we had the better of that this time having won at Man City, but it is a little bit frustrating for everybody because it is a little bit fragmented at the moment.

"The season needs to get up and running, but after only three games, we are having international breaks."

Winger Oussama Assaidi is in contention to make his 'second debut' for Stoke on Saturday after rejoining on another season-long loan deal from Liverpool on transfer deadline day. Midfielder Stephen Ireland (rib) looks set to miss out along with Geoff Cameron (hernia) and Peter Odemwingie (knee), both of whom have undergone surgery.

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson has urged his players to develop a winning habit in the Premier League after quickly finding their footing on their return to the big time.

Pearson's Foxes have endured a baptism of fire this season following promotion from the Championship with matches against Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal so far.

For the most part City have acquitted themselves well, taking points from credible home draws with Roberto Martinez and Arsene Wenger's sides, whilst performing admirably in a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

An away trip at Stoke now beckons, although the Britannia Stadium has proven over the years it is far from an easy place to play, and with Hughes' side buoyant after beating Manchester City prior to the international break.

But Pearson knows if City are to survive this season then victories are required, the sooner the better.

"Moving from the Championship to the Premier League there needs to be time for an adjustment," said Pearson.

"The players have shown their ability to adapt, and they're capable of performing at this level.

"The performances have been encouraging, and against good opposition, but what we need to do now is find a way of winning games."

Pearson has so far been impressed from what he has seen from his side and is convinced they will avoid the battle to beat the drop.

"It's important we continue to play positively," added Pearson.

"If we continue to show the same desire and application as we have so far then I'm a big believer we will do well this season.

"But we've got to maintain the standards we've set so far in certain aspects, and then of course improve in other areas.

"There's no doubting we need to convert chances when they come along, but collectively we've been very good.

"We've not gone into any game with a negative mentality, which reflects on the players we have available and their ability to understand what is expected of them.

"They've done very well so far, but as I say, clearly we'd like to start winning games."

Pearson, who was on Stoke's coaching staff from 1999-2001, initially under Gary Megson and then Gudjon Thordarson, remains without defender Matthew Upson (foot) and midfielder Matty James who is close to a return after a recent shin injury.


From Belfast Telegraph