Stoke V Norwich at Britannia Stadium : Match Preview

29 September 2013 09:11
Stoke V Norwich - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Hughes: Goals will come for Potters

Stoke boss Mark Hughes believes his side are ready to consign their reputation as long-ball merchants to history by matching the big guns in the goalscoring stakes.

The Potters' solid start to the new Barclays Premier League season is still yet to entirely convince the critics, after yielding just four goals from their first five league games.

But Hughes reckons the tactical revolution he has overseen at the Britannia Stadium since replacing Tony Pulis in the summer will soon pay off - starting with Sunday's visit of struggling Norwich.

Hughes said: "I am convinced that at some point things will turn and we will score a greater amount of goals.

"We are certainly creating chances and that is encouraging. I think it is only a matter of time until we really take the game to somebody and score quite a few goals."

Despite being tipped by many as relegation candidates, Hughes' men have impressed in their opening encounters having been unfortunate not to beat Manchester City before a tough loss at Arsenal last week.

And Hughes says the spirit and strength in depth of his squad was evident in the way his players picked themselves up to ease through a potentially tricky Capital One Cup clash with Tranmere in midweek.

"I have good quality and good ability in many, many positions," the Welshman said.

"We have enough players here to get us through a long, hard season. There are good players who haven't even made the bench recently, so seeing them perform well in midweek was fantastic.

"We are enjoying what we are doing at the moment, playing well and looking forward to every game that comes along. Norwich will accept that it is a difficult game for them, but it won't be easy for us either.

"We've got a good run of fixtures coming up after the weekend so there is a chance for us to go out and show what we are capable of doing this season."

Hughes has a concern over midfielder Matthew Etherington, who suffered whiplash in a traffic incident on Friday morning, but hopes he will be fit enough to face the Canaries.

Asmir Begovic will continue between the posts, with Hughes having given short shrift to reports in the Spanish media that both Atletico Madrid and Napoli are tracking the goalkeeper with a view to a new-year swoop.

And he will be without Jack Butland, who has been sent to Barnsley for a three-month loan spell in order to give the 20-year-old England man a chance to continue his development with guaranteed first-team action.

Norwich manager Chris Hughton would have liked his team to have made a better start to the current Barclays Premier League campaign, but insists now is not the time to panic.

The Canaries have picked up four points from their opening five games, scoring just three goals in the process, following a summer spending spree like never before seen at the club.

The likes of Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Leroy Fer, Gary Hooper and Nathan Redmond were added to the ranks, but the new-look squad have so far failed to gel together.

Norwich now face tricky fixtures against Stoke, Chelsea and Arsenal and, although Hughton knows more points at this stage would have been preferable, he is not unduly worried.

"It is always a concern because we would want to be better placed than we are," he said.

"But we also have to realise we are five games in to the season and there are a few teams who are only one point better off than we are.

"It is not the time or stage to panic. You have to stay calm in this period and have the belief in your abilities and the ability of the team.

"We are very early in the season to be making judgements. Every game is an opportunity, no matter how difficult it may look on paper."

Norwich captain Sebastien Bassong remains a doubt after he missed the midweek Capital One Cup success over Watford. He suffered a hamstring injury in the defeat to Aston Villa and could still be absent for the match at the Britannia Stadium.

Source: PA