Ryan Shawcross backs under-pressure Stoke boss Mark Hughes

Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross has delivered an endorsement of Mark Hughes after Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Bournemouth left the Potters in the relegation zone.

The Cherries struck twice in 133 seconds in the first period when Andrew Surman's 16th-minute goal was followed by a Junior Stanislas penalty, which Shawcross gave away by tripping Benik Afobe in the box.

Mame Diouf pulled one back for Stoke in the second period but, having conceded 20 times in nine fixtures, they slipped into the bottom three on goal difference.

The Potters hierarchy have historically backed their managers through lean spells and there is no sense that Hughes' position as manager is under any scrutiny despite their run of five defeats in their last six matches.

And, in the midst of that sticky spell, Shawcross has lent his support to Hughes.

"The manager is absolutely brilliant," he told Stoke City+.

"We had a great game plan but unfortunately we couldn't produce the goods. It was the players' fault.

"Obviously the players are down, but the manager is always confident and always gives you that boost. And like he always says, we'll be fine.

"You look at the table at the end of the season, not 10 games in.

"If we can get a win next week then everything is a lot brighter, but it is 38 games this league, it's not nine, it's not 10, it's where you finish at the end of the season, and that's all our target is."

Shawcross was making his first start since August due to a back injury but it was another recently-returned player who made the biggest impact at the bet365 Stadium, where Bournemouth picked up their first points on their travels this term.

Bournemouth forward Stanislas set up Surman's opening strike and then converted the penalty having played the ball through to Afobe in the build-up by nutmegging Kurt Zouma with a back-heel.

Stanislas scored in each of the Cherries' final three fixtures last season yet missed the start of this campaign with a groin injury - a fact boss Eddie Howe admitted affected his side during their own difficult period.

"I thought we looked extremely confident, the players who haven't played recently came in to do well," Howe said.

"Junior is very good, we missed him earlier in the season.

"He's a goalscorer - last season he scored important goals - and he's a creator too. At this level you can't have enough of those players and he was excellent."


 

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