Still time for struggling Imbula to come good, says Stoke boss Hughes

07 April 2017 04:40

Stoke boss Mark Hughes is set to give record signing Giannelli Imbula one more chance before making a decision on whether to sell him in the summer.

Imbula joined the Potters for £18.3million from Porto, but has struggled to make an impact and last started a Premier League game in December.

Despite reports the club are prepared to take a significant loss and off-load him at the end of the current campaign, Hughes says he has not yet given up hope that the Belgian-born player could be a success.

Hughes said: "It's fair to say he has struggled this year in terms of having an impact and that's unfortunate. But any decision on any player will not be made during the season.

"He had a bright start when he first came in, but it's about a consistent level of performance and he has struggled to maintain that to be honest.

"We feel there is more to come from him from a football point of view and we will try and bring that out of him.

"I would really have liked him to have grabbed his opportunity to stay in the team and that hasn't happened. But he has still got time between now and the end of the season to get more games and hopefully impress."

Stoke's midweek defeat at Burnley was their third in succession and came after a testing run of games against the likes of Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea.

And, with a more favourable run-in approaching, Hughes hopes his players will grasp the chance to bounce back, starting against Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on Saturday.

Hughes added: "With the quality of opposition that we've been up against in recent weeks, you could say arguably that this run of fixtures is the most difficult we've had this season.

"But apart from against Leicester I think we've put decent enough performances in and that continued against Burnley where we were disappointed because I thought we were the better team on the night."

Hughes could be boosted by the return of Xherdan Shaqiri on Saturday after the Swiss international finally shrugged off the calf problems that have dogged him since January.

And he also has high hopes that striker Saido Berahino will finish the season on a high and set himself up to hit the ground running at the start of the next campaign.

Hughes added: "Next season is when we feel Saido will have the maximum impact for us - he hasn't played a lot of football this year and it is always difficult coming in in the January transfer window.

"He is still getting up to speed, but these games are invaluable in terms of next year and understanding what we're about. I feel we will see a marked difference in terms of his impact in games.

"I think he's integrated into the squad really well, but clearly we want him to get him off and running and scoring goals before the end of the season because that will be good for him."

Source: PA