Mark Hughes is hopeful Xherdan Shaqiri’s injury problems are behind him after he played a starring role in a 3-1 win over Hull City that all but ensured Stoke City’s Premier League survival.
Shaqiri has been blighted by hamstring and calf issues this season, and made his first league appearance since January in last week’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.
But the Switzerland international teed up Marko Arnautovic for Stoke’s opener in Saturday’s contest and, after Peter Crouch had restored the hosts’ lead following Harry Maguire’s leveller, it was Shaqiri who put the game to bed in stunning fashion.
The former Bayern Munich attacking midfielder made it 3-1 with a rasping, swerving effort from 30 yards to send Stoke 11 points clear of the relegation zone.
And Hughes told Sky Sports: “We’re in a good position now where we can relax to a certain extent, maybe release a little bit of the anxiety that displays itself on occasion because we just needed to get the win. We can show a lot more freedom in the remaining games that we have.
“The icing on the cake is the fantastic goal by Shaqiri, who I thought played really well and that’s two back-to-back near-enough full games that he’s acquitted himself really well.
“We hope that the problems he’s had with his calves are over and we can have him finishing strongly like the rest of them.
“I think we’ve got a better understanding of what he requires during the week and post-match as well in terms of his recovery. We’re getting on top of it and we’re grateful he’s come through the game again unscathed.”
Hull remain two points above the bottom three, but head coach Marco Silva is still without an away win since he took over in January and was disappointed by a poor start that saw Arnautovic break the deadlock after six minutes.
He said: “We didn’t start the game well, I think our team played only 80 minutes because the first 10 we didn’t play. After these 10 minutes we put a good intensity in the game, but we cannot start the game like we started.
“We analyse the table, we analyse what the other teams did but we need to analyse our game and I’m not happy with our performance because we need to do more. You need to improve because at this level you need to start strong all the games, you need to play 90 minutes.”
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