Mark Hughes is hopeful Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross will return to action for the club’s development team in the “next couple of weeks”.
Stoke head into Saturday’s home clash against Bournemouth still looking for their first Premier League win of the season having taken only three points from their six games so far.
Speaking at his press conference on Friday, Hughes cited new players having to adjust as a factor in Stoke’s slow start, as well as the absence of Shawcross, who is yet to feature this season but is progressing well in his recovery from back surgery.
“He is a big player for us,” Hughes said.
“Losing your captain will have an obvious effect on the team.
“The good news is he’s training really well and we are hopeful maybe in the next couple of weeks he will get some game time with the development teams and in games in-house.”
Hughes has no doubt a points boost is required swiftly but is not panicking about what he has seen so far.
“I don’t think our performances are too much of a concern,” the Potters boss said.
“We haven’t got as many points as we would like, but for the most part I have been reasonably happy with the main part of our performances.
“If we look back we can maybe console ourselves in terms of what we produced in some of the games, even though we have also made individual errors.
“We view ourselves as a middle-to-top team in the Premier League, and at some point in the season you will get a run where you go four, five, six games without a win.
“It is about the end of the season, and we are confident.
“We know we are a good side at this level, and hopefully we’ll get the points on the board that our performances merit, starting tomorrow.”
Hughes has guided Stoke to ninth-placed finishes in both of his two seasons in charge so far and insists something similar this term is still very much the aim, even as they sit 18th at the present time.
He added: “We are a little bit behind, but not by much and we can make up the difference. We have plenty of time.”