Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes insists Stoke can turn their season around

Mark Hughes accepts Stoke are staring at a relegation fight but is confident the situation is redeemable.

The Potters have slipped into the Premier League's bottom three after losing five of their last seven games, shining an intense spotlight on Hughes' position.

Press Association Sport understands the Welshman's role is being considered by club chiefs but Hughes said it was business as usual after a regular meeting on Thursday.

He led Stoke to three successive ninth-placed finishes during his first three seasons in charge but, after a more difficult campaign last term, this season is threatening to be a nail-biting one.

The Coates family, who own the club, are known for their patience with managers and Hughes has no doubt they want to see him succeed.

"Yes, absolutely," he said. "Why wouldn't you want good people to be able to succeed like they have done in the past?

"We're in a position that we're not comfortable with, individually and collectively. Is it redeemable? Yes. Are we past the point of no return? Absolutely not.

"We're not naive. It's a difficult situation but we can turn it round. There are a lot of clubs in and around us who are having seasons that they're disappointed with as well. It's up to us to make sure our disappointment isn't as great as theirs at the end of the season."

Hughes discussed the club's plan for the transfer window with Peter and John Coates, the chairman and vice-chairman, and chief executive Tony Scholes on Thursday.

He did not confirm that Fulham left-back Ryan Fredericks is a target but admitted full-backs are an area he will be looking to strengthen.

"That's a new one to me," said Hughes when asked about a reported £3million bid for Fredericks.

"We haven't got to that point where we're finalising exactly who we're going to move for or whatever. Clearly we've got names on lists. We've got a little bit of an issue maybe in the full-back areas. It's probably fair to say that we're looking to be stronger there."

Hughes assured supporters, who are calling for his head in increasing numbers, that he is aware of the squad's limitations and is looking to address them.

He said: "I think sometimes when supporters see the make-up of the squad and say: 'Can't the manager see it?' We can see it. 'Why doesn't he do something about it?' It's very difficult to do it.

"Clearly I know exactly the strengths and weaknesses of the squad I've got. Being able to bring through the right quality of players to improve that is sometimes very difficult.

"We're not Manchester City. We can't just go into the market and address clear issues in the squad. We have to try to prioritise. Sometimes one area needs more attention than another area, and you can't do it all at the same time."

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