Joe Allen and Jack Wilshere deserve credit for leaving big clubs where they could have sat back and collected their high wages without playing, Stoke City boss Mark Hughes says.
The midfield duo will do battle at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday when Stoke host Bournemouth, with Allen on fine form for the hosts after his transfer from Liverpool while Wilshere has impressed on a loan spell from Arsenal for their opponents.
Hughes thinks the cases of the two players are comparable and praised them for their bold moves as he looks to continue his side’s run of six Premier League matches without defeat.
“I think Jack is very similar to Joe’s situation,” Hughes said at his pre-match media conference.
“We could all look at players who perhaps took the easy option – taking your money and sitting back and being part of a bigger club with the benefits that brings without playing week-in, week-out without that demand on you as an individual.
“So credit to him and to Joe for being prepared to put their reputations on the line, week in week out which all top players want to do.
“Clearly Jack’s an outstanding young player and he probably got to the time in his career – given the injuries he’s had – where he needed a fair run at playing week in week out.
“He’s been honest enough and brave enough to realise that probably wasn’t going to happen [at Arsenal] and has been told that’s the case – that he probably wasn’t going to get the consistent run of games all players want.
“It was a decision that maybe surprised people because it was Bournemouth. But why should that surprise people? He’s gone to a team which plays good football, which is what he wants to do. They are a settled, calm club with management that looks solid.
“So he knows it’s a stable club to rebuild his career and get playing time. Initially people might have been taken aback by the decision but if you look a little bit deeper it makes a lot of sense for Jack.”
Allen, too, has shone with a series of strong displays that have seen him score four goals in the Premier League for Stoke, and Hughes is adamant he is going nowhere.
“Joe has only just come to the club, he has a long contract,” added the manager.
“It has worked out well for all parties. He needed to move to get this chance to show what he can do, and that was the motivation for him.
“He needed to find the right club and he has found that here. We are delighted with what he is producing for us.”
Bournemouth are one place behind Stoke in 13th after suffering consecutive defeats to Middlesbrough and Sunderland in their last two outings, but manager Eddie Howe feels they have been unfortunate.
Howe said: “How we have scored one goal in the last three I don’t know. Those statistics will change if we continue to do the right things.
“It can be difficult after an international break – we have never had that problem traditionally, though, and we relish that we have that problem now!
“I want to see 100 per cent commitment on Saturday. We have deserved more and it’s up to us to prove that with results. It’s been a long two weeks.”