Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes considering Peter Crouch ahead of trip to Everton

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is hoping for another successful trip to Everton on Saturday - but a less eventful one than last time.

Hughes' men, who have opened their Premier League campaign with a draw at Middlesbrough followed by a home loss to Manchester City, have taken all three points on each of their previous two visits to Goodison Park.

The most recent was a memorable 4-3 triumph in December which saw the Potters mount a late fightback from 3-2 down.

And Hughes said ahead of this weekend's top-flight contest: "We enjoy going there. We had a fantastic game there last season.

"Clearly the result went our way, but it could have gone either way. It was a great game for everybody who was there just to watch it.

"I'd take the same result, but maybe with less dramatic moments because there were too many goals and too many incidents!"

Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri, scorer of a remarkable goal in the December match, could return to action on Saturday after missing the last two games with a calf injury.

But the fixture will come too soon for goalkeeper Jack Butland (ankle) and defender Glen Johnson (thigh) to make their first appearances of the season.

Peter Crouch made the most of his on Tuesday as he grabbed a hat-trick in the 4-0 EFL Cup win at Stevenage, and Hughes has indicated the 35-year-old striker could keep his place in the team.

"Peter has given me something to think about, clearly, and that is what I want," Hughes said.

"Maybe last year, most of our strikers played a decent number of games - some will argue maybe not enough, but they all had chances - and maybe it's fair to say not one of them really grabbed the shirt and said 'this is mine to lose'.

"In fairness, different opposition required players with different attributes, so sometimes changes were made because of that. Sometimes when we were away from home we needed different types of player.

"But I maybe needed more of them to score goals and say they are staying in the team.

"I'm not saying it is definitive yet, but my decision on it (Crouch's involvement on Saturday) certainly will be shaped by what happened on Tuesday night.

"He has been in to see me a couple of times (about the amount of game time he is getting), but I would expect that.

"We've had a conversation about it - he's very valued, both on and off the pitch, and he knows that.

"Peter is a unique player in terms of what he can bring to the table and if he gets the right service he can be very difficult to stop."

Stoke face an Everton side who have so far drawn 1-1 at home with Tottenham and won 2-1 at West Brom in the Premier League under their new boss Ronald Koeman, and beat Yeovil 4-0 at Goodison Park in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

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