Xherdan Shaqiri looks set to make his belated Stoke City debut when Mark Hughes’ men visit Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.
The Switzerland winger – Stoke’s record signing at £12million – was ineligible for last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Tottenham due to an unspent Coppa Italia suspension from his time at Inter.
Manager Hughes believes the extra time has enabled Shaqiri to settle into his new surroundings and expects his new star man to make a big impact.
“There are decisions to be made on who starts and who will be on the bench [against Norwich],” he said. “He [Shaqiri] has been very good in training.
“Although we would have liked him available last week, we feel that the extra week he has had has aided him. He is more integrated into the group now, and he is aware of what we are trying to do.
“With every signing there is always an element of risk to it, and this one is no different. He is our record signing, and we feel we have brought in a player of real top quality. He can be a really big player for us this season.”
Bojan Krkic is well on the road to recovery from the knee injury that cut short his first season in England and, with a trip to Luton Town to come in the League Cup on Tuesday, Hughes has hinted the Spanish forward could soon make his return.
“I haven’t made a decision yet,” he explained. “I have made a conversation with Bojan and he is progressing really well.
“He had 90 minutes (for the Under-21s against Wolves) last weekend which was important, but I am mindful that we have a game on Tuesday night as well.”
Shaqiri and Bojan contribute to what could become a significant attacking selection headache for Hughes, whose side can from two goals down to rescue a point at White Hart Lane.
“I think people are excited and enthused about what we could possibly offer when we have everybody fit and available,” he added. “We need to get the balance correct though, and get the combinations right.
“There are lots of talented players in the squad now, and throughout the season I will look at which 11 I feel is best for that game and pick my team on that.”
While Stoke have picked up one point from their opening two fixtures, Norwich got off the mark with a 3-1 win at Sunderland last weekend, but winger Nathan Redmond is not dwelling on that victory.
“We’ll put the Sunderland game to bed and we’ll study Stoke and look to that game on Saturday,” he told the Norwich evening news. “We just want to try and continue the momentum but you have to understand that each game is different, each team is different and it’s a different task, so we’ve got to be ready for it.”
Stoke are still without Ryan Shawcross (back) and Peter Odemwingie (hamstring), while Norwich will check on Kyle Lafferty (knee) and Martin Olsson (shoulder).
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