Hughes: Let's banish the Blues
Stoke manager Mark Hughes will not underestimate Birmingham in their Capital One Cup tie but believes the positivity his side have shown recently will help avoid an upset.
The Potters twice took the lead in a 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford at the weekend and, despite the fact they have scored only six goals in their last eight matches in all competitions, he is confident the goals will come.
"You know teams at a lower level than yourselves will give it everything - certainly Tranmere did (in the last round) but we had more than enough quality to navigate that round," said Hughes, ahead of the clash with the Sky Bet Championship side.
"I think we have been positive in every game we've played and we continue to create enough chances in every game we've played to take games away from teams so that's a frustration.
"We never felt it (a lack of goals) was a worry because it would be more of a worry if we weren't creating.
"I thought at the weekend Peter Crouch came in and did really well, giving us a focal point to the attack."
Hughes hopes the cup tie will provide some respite from a league campaign which has seen them collect two points from the last six matches.
The competition, in its various guises, holds a special place for the 49-year-old as he scored his first goal against Oxford on his full Manchester United debut in the 1983-84 season.
"It has featured prominently in my playing career," said Hughes, who won the League Cup as a player with United, Chelsea and Blackburn.
"I know some clubs prioritise the league very early on in the season but I think with the squad I've got and their capabilities we can manage a cup run.
"We have come through the disappointment of the United game and we have a game very quickly after that to get over it."
Hughes has a significant personal landmark approaching later this week and does not intend for a cup exit to spoil it.
"It's my 50th birthday on Friday so I want to be smiling as well," he added.
Hughes also praised the competitiveness and will to win of captain Ryan Shawcross but does not believe he oversteps the mark.
The Potters centre-back was involved in a confrontation with Manchester United's Robin van Persie at half-time and reportedly after Saturday's match.
Shawcross has also managed to upset other players on the field with midfielder Marouane Fellaini sent off for headbutting the centre-back while playing for Everton last December after the Belgium international snapped following a running battle with his opposite number.
But Hughes insists that does not mean Shawcross should not have a reputation for anything other than being competitive.
"He goes about his business in the way that is most effective for him," said the former United and Chelsea striker.
"He competes and doesn't like getting beat and they are not bad qualities for a centre-half to have as long as he doesn't over-step the mark.
"It was just a case of a centre-forward and a centre-half going up against each other and they clash now and again.
"Me and Martin Keown used to go at it hammer and tongs - you probably needed two balls, one for us two and one for everyone else.
"Ryan is a good centre-half who is an accomplished player."
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