Belfast Telegraph

Mark Hughes wants Stoke to take heart from their recent record at Villa Park

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is optimistic Villa Park can once again prove a happy hunting ground for his side on Saturday.

This will be the third time the Potters have played Aston Villa away in the Barclays Premier League since Hughes became their manager, and the previous two occasions both ended in victories for the visitors.

The Staffordshire outfit won 4-1 in 2013-14 before triumphing 2-1 last term, and Hughes told Stoke City Player ahead of this game: "It's a place that we have enjoyed going to over the past couple of years and hopefully we can claim three more points this time round.

"It's never an easy place to go but we have produced some really pleasing stuff there during our previous visits, and we can take heart from that."

Stoke go into the contest lying 17th in the table, one place and two points ahead of Villa.

Hughes' team have seen things appear to start coming together for them in recent times, recording back-to-back wins in their last two games by seeing off Fulham in the Capital One Cup and then Bournemouth for their first league victory of 2015-16.

And the Welshman said: "Now we want to build upon that and sign off for the international break unbeaten in four (Stoke drew with Leicester in the league prior to the Fulham game).

"We were pleased with how things went last week, taking four points from two games and beating Fulham in the cup, so we are in good spirits at the moment and looking forward to the game."

After the Villa fixture Stoke are not in action again until October 19 when they play Swansea away - something Hughes regards as a less-than-ideal situation.

"It will be a longer break for us than most with not playing until the Monday night, but we will navigate that in the same way that we usually do," he said.

"We will look to give the guys who aren't involved in international action a bit of down time, and then when the other lads do come back we will have a bit of extra time to work with them ahead of the Swansea game.

"It's not ideal - we want to be out there playing games - but at this time of the season it often gets a little fragmented. It's something we all have to deal with."

Hughes thinks Xherdan Shaqiri has just a 50-50 chance of being fit for the trip to Villa.

The midfielder suffered a thigh injury against Bournemouth and had not trained by Thursday.

Defender Marc Wilson looks likely to be absent for a second successive week as he continues to struggle with a calf injury while Hughes hopes captain Ryan Shawcross will return from back surgery in the Swansea game.


From Belfast Telegraph