Mark Hughes says Saido Berahino is still not ready to play from the start as Stoke City prepare to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The striker joined from West Brom for £12million in the January transfer window and has made two appearances for the Potters off the bench.
Berahino arrived short of match fitness, having not featured for the Baggies since September.
Last week, Hughes confirmed that Berahino had served an eight-week ban towards the end of his time at The Hawthorns after failing a drugs test for a recreational substance.
Though the Welshman concedes Berahnio is not fit for a starting berth, he hopes he will be by the time they travel to Tottenham on February 26.
“He wasn’t unfit, but not match fit. That’s a longer process,” said Hughes.
“We’re probably not at the point where he’s ready to start, but we’ve got a two-week break after this game and perhaps he’s more likely to start at Spurs.”
Hughes, who is likely to be without Xherdan Shaqiri (calf) and Glen Johnson (Achilles), also warned Stoke to be on their guard against a Palace side wounded by last week’s 4-0 loss to relegation rivals Sunderland at the Bet365 Stadium.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) February 10, 2017
“Everyone assumes, and rightly so in my view, that if you are in a bit of trouble then [Palace manager] Sam [Allardyce] is your man to get you out,” he added.
“Everyone is willing to accept that and you sense there will be a reaction. Hopefully after we’ve played them.”
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