Sunday 19 November 2017

Hughes: We must cash in on home advantage

Stoke manager Mark Hughes wants to make home advantage count in tonight’s League Cup
semi-final first leg clash with Liverpool
Stoke manager Mark Hughes wants to make home advantage count in tonight’s League Cup semi-final first leg clash with Liverpool

Stoke City must make home advantage count in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final against Liverpool at the Britannia Stadium tonight, said manager Mark Hughes.

"We don't want to go to Anfield (for the second leg) no longer being in the tie. Our home form has been good. If we hit our levels, we can cause real problems," Hughes told a news conference on Monday.

"The key is we make sure we're very much in the tie and see where it takes us. We're really enjoying the anticipation heading into it."

Stoke lost 1-0 at home to Liverpool, then managed by Brendan Rodgers, on the opening day of the Premier League season when Phillipe Coutinho struck an 86th minute winner.

Hughes' men, one point and two spots below eighth-placed Liverpool in the table, have won four and lost four of their nine home league matches this season and their scalps include Chelsea, and both Manchester clubs City and United last month.

Stoke and Liverpool lost in the league at the weekend, City conceding a last-minute goal to go down 2-1 at West Bromwich Albion while Juergen Klopp's side were well beaten 2-0 at West Ham United.

"We're frustrated by the weekend's result. We went into the game in good form and we just dipped below what we are capable of," said Hughes.

"We can't be too disappointed. We look back and take it in perspective. We have a big game tomorrow to bounce back with.

"For us, it's a good time to play them (Liverpool) because we're at home and looking for a reaction."

Hughes dismissed talk of Bojan Krkic having a buy-out clause in his contract and stressed the playmaker is not about to leave the club.

Hughes said: "There's no clause. There's no intention or desire from us as a club (for the player to be sold) or from Bojan or his people from the conversations I've had - he's very happy and we are very happy with him.

"I think it's just a little big of mischief making."

Stoke, in the League Cup semi-finals for the first time since winning the competition in 1972, will be boosted by the news that Geoff Cameron will be available after appealing his red card received against West Brom on saturday.

Cameron was facing a three-game suspension after being sent off in the Premier League clash with West Brom.

The only injury concerns are Phil Bardsley, a doubt having pulled up in training on Monday, and Shay Given, who remains sidelined by a knee problem.

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