Date: 28th September 2017 at 5:26pm
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Manager Mark Hughes has admitted he faces an anxious wait ahead of Southampton at the weekend when it comes to our defensive strength.

With four senior defenders out of action for Chelsea last weekend and Bruno Martins Indi the only senior tagged player, the Dutchman limped off late on having suffered a minor groin strain so Friday is very much D-Day when it comes to finding out whether we have good news on the injury front, as people will be assessed late on to give them as much time to recover as possible.

Speaking to the Official Website as he met with the media to preview the game Hughes said of the current state of play with injuries.

‘We`re biding our time at the moment and we will have to wait and see what the next day brings. We`re looking at a number of things, we have a number of doubts for the weekend but nothing confirmed yet so I will wait until tomorrow to give an update because we need the next 24 hours to see if people will come through or not. You always get injuries, I`ve been doing this for a long time and in terms of central defenders, I`ve never known anything like having most of them unavailable.’

Hughes went on to say that obviously we can welcome back Kurt Zouma as he was ineligible to face his parent club.

‘You sometimes have one or two players in the same positions injured, but to have as many as we did unavailable last weekend was difficult to take and obviously we`re stronger with more senior players available. We have Kurt back which is a big bonus for us and it was unfortunate that the injury situation we found ourselves in coincided with the Chelsea game when he was unavailable. He`s a definite for Saturday and clearly we`re hoping we don`t get any further injuries from now to the weekend.’

Looking to Southampton more specifically, Hughes knew Stoke had to control the game from the beginning as we look to put Chelsea disappointment behind us.

‘It`s more about the performance level that we`re looking for really, if we continue to play as well as we have done at home then we will be fine. If we can get on the scoresheet first then that makes it more difficult for the opposition we`re facing and that will be our intention at the weekend. Going behind very early in our last game was the worst possible start and if you`re gifting teams` goals so soon then it encourages them – we have to be better in that regard and for the most part this season we have been.’

Hughes ended by saying.

‘I would suggest we`re two evenly matched sides and they`re a good side who, on their day, can play exceptionally well and cause you problems like we can. We need to make sure that we dictate to them, make sure they don`t get any momentum to their play and take the game from them. They`re good collectively and good individually so we will need to make sure that we are ready.’

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