Tuesday 25 September 2018

Hughes: 'Class of Afellay is no surprise'

Mark Hughes has said that the class of Ibrahim Afellay came as no surprise
Mark Hughes has said that the class of Ibrahim Afellay came as no surprise

Stoke boss Mark Hughes believes the quality Ibrahim Afellay demonstrated in the League Cup quarter-final victory over Sheffield Wednesday should have come as no surprise to anyone.

Afellay has been struggling to live up to the excitement that had been generated among Potters fans by his signing over the summer.

The 29-year-old Holland international and ex-Barcelona player was sent off in only his fourth game for Stoke and failed to regain a starting place in the Premier League thereafter.

But having been handed a start against Wednesday in the cup tie at the Britannia Stadium, he registered his first Stoke goal in fine style with a delightfully-executed volley on the half-hour mark.

And Hughes said of Afellay: "I thought he played really well - arguably one of his best games since he has come to the club. But he is a quality player. You look at his CV and he is a player of talent.

"So we shouldn't be surprised when he is able to score a goal like that. It was a great strike."

Stoke wrapped up a comfortable 2-0 victory over their Sky Bet Championship visitors on Tuesday thanks to substitute Phil Bardsley's 75th-minute strike.

Hughes was particularly pleased a semi-final spot - the club's first in the League Cup since they won the trophy in 1972 - could be sealed despite him making a significant number of changes.

The starting XI showed five adjustments, with the likes of Peter Crouch, Marco van Ginkel and Marc Wilson joining Afellay in making rare starts, while Bojan Krkic and Xherdan Shaqiri were among those afforded a rest.

When Crouch came off due to a hamstring injury in only the 13th minute, his replacement Joselu went on to produce a decent performance that included teeing up Afellay's goal.

Hughes added: "I think this showed how strong the squad is. Everyone is pushing in the right direction and when I do make changes, guys can come in and make and impression like they did here."

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