Date: 16th March 2017 at 9:52pm
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Manager Mark Hughes has now held his pre game press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash against Premier League leaders Chelsea.

Speaking to the Official Website as he met with the wider media on Thursday afternoon, Hughes explained that with four points from our last two games – victory over Middlesbrough and the scoreless draw with Manchester City – he feels the group can go into this weekend’s clash on home soil with confidence.

Obviously though he knows we’ll need to put in similar performances if we are to take anything from the side looking likely to relift the Premier League trophy this season.

‘We obviously had a good performance last time out and so we`ll refer back to that as we approach the weekend. We`ve had a really good response from the disappointment at White Hart Lane – we came back home against Middlesbrough and played really well in my view and got the job done. To be honest I don`t think many people expected us to get any sort of positive result at Manchester City but we were very solid and had a threat up front, so all in all we are in decent shape and good heart. We`ll remind ourselves of how well we performed in that game before we face Chelsea. They are playing exceptionally well at the moment, so it will be a tough ask, but I think we can draw encouragement from how we`ve performed in our last two games.’

Turning thoughts more to Chelsea themselves and the test they will pose, he went on to say.

‘You have to say that they are the toughest challenge we will face because they are the most consistent team and have a way of playing which tactically is difficult to go up against. If you try to stop one area of their progression then they will open up other areas of the pitch and are able to attack in another way. They have good flexibility within a solid structure. It`s a big test and they are clearly the best team this year which they have proven by the amount of games they`ve won.’

Hughes went on to say the heart and effort put in by the team against Manchester City should certainly give us a boost going into this one.

‘If truth be known, they`ve always had good players and it`s all about the players. As I said after the Manchester City game, it`s not about systems but whether your players commit to what you are telling them to do. Clearly that`s what is happening this year at Chelsea which maybe wasn`t the case for whatever reason the season before. The key is if you can recruit good players who will run around then you have a chance of taking something out of games. It applies to them and it applies to us.’

The Welshman also confirmed that he was considering changes for the game to give us the best possible shot of a positive result.

‘They play in a slightly different way than Manchester City do with three at the back, as opposed to four, so we will do a bit of work on that. There may well be a few changes but not radical ones. We`ve got good options at the moment and sometimes you have to be fair to the guys who have helped you get positive results, albeit I will always try to pick a team that I feel is best capable of winning a match. That sometimes means changing a winning team.’

Xherdan Shaqiri last featured in the one all draw with Manchester United in January, but the Swiss international comes back into his thoughts for this one.

‘He`s just had little niggles and setbacks which is a shame for Shaq. Prior to these small injuries he`s been picking up I felt he was doing really well but it`s stopped him in his tracks to a certain extent. He`s fit and available though and hopefully won`t pick up any negatives leading up to the game at the weekend.’

Goalkeeper Jack Butland has also returned to training this week as he continues his recovery from his long term ankle injury.

‘Jack is doing consistent work now. He starts the morning with the physios and once Andy Quy has done his work with the goalkeepers and they are sent over to us, he has some one-on-one time with him. He`s progressing well but we are not going to force it or push him too hard. We`ll just steadily increase his workload and he`ll be back very soon I`m sure.’

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