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Tottenham v Stoke City: Shaqiri set to take centre stage

Stoke City head into Saturday’s Premier League meeting with Tottenham buoyed by the arrival of record £12million signing Xherdan Shaqiri.

The Switzerland international joined from Inter earlier this week, having been pictured in the stands watching Stoke’s 1-0 loss to Liverpool on the opening weekend of the season.

UEFA Champions League winner Shaqiri said on Thursday that he was feeling fully fit and ready to make his bow, while manager Mark Hughes is thrilled at the prospect of seeing the attacker in action.

“We hope that Xherdan can make a huge impact in the Premier League. He has outstanding ability that we will benefit from,” said Hughes.

“He’s a top player and we now have a host of top-quality players in our squad to change games and create something out of nothing. He certainly fits within that category.

“We are trying to progress and you can only do that by getting the right quality of players in to enhance what we already have. We are hopeful of a good year and to have someone here of Xherdan’s undoubted ability is fantastic.

“We have strength in depth, shown last year where we had a really good season despite a number of injuries. I think that we will need that again this year and if that gives me a headache over team selection then that can only be a good thing.”

Hughes is hoping for a repeat of Stoke’s 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane last term, but feels Spurs were unlucky to go down 1-0 at Manchester United last Saturday.

“Tottenham are a good side and were unfortunate, like ourselves, to not get something out of their game last week,” he added.

“We played exceptionally well there last year and deserved our win. If we can replicate that level then hopefully we will do that again.”

Hughes continues to be without Bojan Krkic, who is still building up his fitness following a serious knee injury, and captain Ryan Shawcross (back). Peter Odemwingie is also unavailable due to a hamstring strain, while Marko Arnautovic (thigh) and Marc Wilson (knock) are doubts.

For the hosts, head coach Mauricio Pochettino has the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from, although Roberto Soldado appears unlikely to be involved after the striker flew to Spain on Thursday, reportedly to discuss a switch to Villarreal.

“I’m happy with Hugo Lloris [wrist] and Alex Pritchard [who had respective wrist and ankle problems],” Pochettino said. “Last week Danny Rose had a little injury, but this week all players are fit.

“This is important for us, a problem for me but a good problem. It’s a shame I can only pick 18 players.”

Thu 13 Aug, 2015
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