Date: 6th January 2017 at 4:22pm
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Manager Mark Hughes has said that Stoke City go into the tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers this weekend looking for victory as he certainly doesn’t want to be one of this season’s third round cup shocks.

Speaking to the Official Website in his pre game press conference ahead of Saturday’s cup clash at the Bet365 Stadium against our local rivals, Hughes knew the competition was naturally unpredictable and he wanted us to earn our tag as favourites by being professional and taking the win.

‘The third round of the FA Cup is always a great day in the fixture calendar, and we have a decent home draw against a lower-league side. That is all you can really ask for at this stage, in terms of having a home fixture, but they will have a good following and I am sure it will be a great cup tie.’

He went on to say.

‘We have got to get our performance level right, and if we do that you would like to think that the quality we have will see us through. You never know though, it is a cup game and we are playing a sport whereby anything can happen on any given day. All it needs is a ball to be knocked into the box and it can fly in off somebodies backside or their leg and all of a sudden it becomes a real cup tie.’

The former Manchester United man went on to say that we only had to look at Wrexham a few years back to see how dicey a third round tie can become.

‘We experienced it to a degree a couple of years back when Wrexham came here and gave us a bit of a fright, and we certainly don`t want that to be the case on Saturday. It`s a case of us getting the job done as early as we can and then hopefully enjoying the rest of the afternoon.’

Believing our preparation for the competition has been right so far, Hughes went on to say that whatever squad he picks will be picked with a view to victory and he wouldn’t take a risk on that front as he has fond memories himself from his playing days.

‘It`s been a great competition for me personally, especially as a player. I managed to lift the trophy on a number of occasions and reached the semis several times too, but I would love to add to that record as a manager. We would like to go all the way if we possibly can – that is certainly our intention this year, just as it is every year.’

Adding.

‘I show by the teams that I pick that I don`t go weak in the competition. We know that this is realistically one of our only real opportunities of winning a trophy. Whatever team I put out on Saturday will be really strong and hopefully they can go out there and get the tie won.’

Pressed on what side would be picked for the tie, he confirmed that Dutch international Ibrahim Afellay would start the game having returned from his knee injury but with him not completing 90 minutes yet, Hughes would consider 60 odd minutes a good success on that front for him, but it would depend on how the game played out.

‘It is certainly my intention to start Ibi tomorrow. If we can get him through 90 minutes then that would be fantastic for him, and also for us of course. We will see how the match pans out though, and if he does 80, 75 or even an hour, that will still be good for him.’

Jonathan Walters is however ruled out despite returning on Tuesday, and Marc Muniesa comes back into Hughes’ thoughts following injury as well.

‘We are missing Jon, who has suffered a bit of inflammation following the game on Tuesday. Marc Muniesa has had a couple of days training this week and we will make a decision on whether we go with him tomorrow. Everybody else who was available on Tuesday, with the exception of Mame Diouf of course, is available for selection.’

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