Mark Hughes has refused to either confirm or deny Stoke City’s apparent interest in West Brom striker Saido Berahino but says Peter Crouch still has a role to play at the club.
Stoke are reported to be one of several Premier League clubs considering making an offer for Berahino this month, but Hughes gave little away when asked about the England Under-21 international.
“There was some mention of it,” Hughes said of the Berahino speculation, “but it would be wrong for me to talk about players from other clubs.
“We are looking in the window and if there’s opportunities we will pursue them.”
Asked if he was aware of Berahino’s apparent availability, Hughes added in The Sentinel: “Yes, of course, but I can’t tell you anything because nothing has progressed. I’ve been busy.”
There could soon be a place available in Stoke’s squad, with Stephen Ireland attracting interest from Abu Dhabi outfit Al Jazira, but one player that Hughes is keen to keep is Crouch, who scored the Potters’ first goal in their 2-1 win at Doncaster in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Crouch has made only three substitute appearances in the Premier League this season and was making his first start in any competition since the Capital One Cup third-round win over Fulham on September 22, but Hughes believes the striker may be needed more in the second half of the season.
“I’ve got a number of players in a similar situation as Peter,” said Hughes, “because I haven’t been able to give them as many games as he would have liked.
“But we are going into the second part of the season and are going to need everybody.
“It was an opportunity for Peter to come in and give me something to think about – and scoring a goal hasn’t done his claims any harm.
“We gave him a new contract at the beginning of the year (2015), so I think that shows how much we value him.
“He’s been as patient as anybody and when I give him an opportunity you hope he comes in and shows his quality… and he’s done that.”
Crouch happy to stay at Stoke
Crouch himself has admitted his frustration at his lack of opportunities this season but says he wants to stay at the Britannia Stadium and hopefully win back his place.
He said: “Of course, it’s hard when you’re training and not playing. You can get down about it so it’s nice to start and get a goal and remember what scoring and playing feels like.
“I love it at Stoke. We’re doing very well and it’s certainly the best squad since I’ve been at the club. It’s been improving year on, year out and ideally I want to be part of that.
“If it’s not the case then I have to look at other options, but all I can do is when I get minutes, try to produce. I do want to be playing but all I can do is work hard and try to get back in the team.
“I know the manager has got belief in me. I think I played 33 or 34 league games last season so this season to have not really featured has been frustrating.
“We’re a top 10 Premier League side and I would like to stay and be a part of that.”