Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Stoke clean sheet would take the cake for Hughes

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 Sep 2015

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Mark Hughes has suggested he will indulge his Stoke City side with a local delicacy if they chalk up a first Premier League clean sheet this season against Leicester City.

Opposite number Claudio Ranieri charmed his own pre-match news conference by stating he would treat the Leicester players to pizzas and hotdogs if they manage a shutout at the Britannia Stadium – a porous backline the only blot on a stunning start to the season that has seen the midlands outfit take 11 points from a possible 15.

By contrast, Stoke are yet to win in five attempts and Hughes hopes the famous Staffordshire staple of oatcakes can act as an incentive on Saturday.

“We will go for oatcakes, I think,” he said. “Far nicer than pizza.”

Culinary differences aside, Hughes took time in his pre-match media briefing to praise former Chelsea manager Ranieri, who has so far enjoyed success at odds to the lukewarm reception his appointment at the King Power Stadium received.

“When he was appointed it took some people aback but Claudio has tremendous experience and has managed at the very highest level,” he said.

“They’ve started the season really well and are still riding the crest of a wave following the end to their last campaign.”

Hughes could hand a first Premier League start to crowd favourite Bojan Krkic since the ex-Barcelona forward suffered a knee ligament injury in an FA Cup tie at Rochdale in January, and the Welshman is confident that a strong run of results is around the corner for Stoke.

“I’m encouraged by the group – there is a lot of talent inside the building,” he added. “They have the determination and belief to have a good season.

“We are looking forward to this period of fixtures. Performances have been okay but we’ll improve and we will register points, I’m sure.”

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