Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes' future remains uncertain at struggling Stoke

Mark Hughes' job remains on the line at Stoke with the club's board considering his future.

The Potters' hierarchy have been assessing their options, which includes sticking with the under-fire manager, Press Association Sport understands.

Fans protested following the 1-0 New Year's Day defeat to Newcastle at the bet365 Stadium which left the Potters two points above the Premier League relegation zone.

It followed a 5-0 thumping at Chelsea where Hughes was criticised for making six changes as he looked to keep some stars fresh to face Newcastle.

The decision backfired but th e former Wales and Blackburn manager has insisted he remains the best man to keep Stoke in the Premier League.

Chairman Peter Coates is known for being loyal to his managers and has so far stuck by Hughes despite a poor first half of the season.

Stoke have won just twice in their last 12 games, losing seven, with some fans holding 'Hughes Out' banners at the game on Monday.

His recent failures in the transfer market have only served to pile the pressure on with £18million midfielder Giannelli Imbula a flop and now on loan at Toulouse while £12m striker Saido Berahino is yet to score.

Former West Brom forward Berahino, who joined last January, has not netted since February 2016.

Stoke are due to go to Coventry in the FA Cup third round on Saturday expected to progress but defeat would leave Hughes on the brink.

He has been in charge since replacing Tony Pulis in 2013 and has won 71 of his 199 games, losing 80 and drawing 48.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Jack Butland feels it is "easy to point the finger" during the club's current difficulties and has stressed the need for unity.

Butland subsequently tweeted: "(At) times like these it's easy to point the finger but we need to stick together, that's what the club and the city is about!

"So let's get on with it and just keep pushing and make sure we do all we can to get ourselves back up the table! @stokecity"

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