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Saturday 3 December 2016

Hughes: We could lose Jonathan

Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters
Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters

Stoke City are running the risk of losing in-form Ireland striker Jonathan Walters due to their contractual dispute with the player, boss Mark Hughes has revealed.

His stunning strike in Tuesday's League Cup meeting with Chelsea, where Stoke won on penalties, was the sixth goal in 12 games for club and country this season for Walters, superb form from the veteran.

But he's out of contract with Stoke at the end of this season and while City have offered him a new one-year deal, Walters wants a longer contract. And the row could see him leave the club.

"There is (a danger of Walters leaving), but it is not what I want and is not what I feel Jon probably wants," said Hughes.

"There is scope to return to the table - I'd like to think so anyway.

"The issue is the length of contract - it is not about our feelings about Jon's ability. He is playing exceptionally well.

"I would like to think we can come to some decision positively not only for ourselves but for Jon himself, because I think he wants security and to be settled in his work.

"I'm hopeful we will get to a point where we can sit down again and find some common ground."

Walters' form against Chelsea in midweek and that strike past Bosnian 'keeper Asmir Begovic only underlined how much he will be missed for the first leg of the Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia next month, the forward suspended for the away leg.

Meanwhile, boss Martin O'Neill this weekend hopes that Ciaran Clark, Darron Gibson and Harry Arter can all build on impressive midweek League Cup appearances, following injury-enforced absences.

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