Hughes expects more exits as Stoke eye ‘next level’

Date published: Friday 11th March 2016 5:08 - Mark Holmes

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Mark Hughes expects others to follow Peter Odemwingie out of the Britannia Stadium exit door as Stoke City target players to take them to the next level.

Odemwingie, with 63 international caps and 36 Premier League goals in 129 appearances, has joined Bristol City on loan until the end of the season having failed to work his way back into contention following injury, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay pushing him way down the pecking order.

The 34-year-old has played just eight times this season and was not going to have his contract renewed in the summer so Hughes felt it best he left now.

“Peter is a case in point. He was as far away from the first XI as he had been for some time and opportunities here from now until the end of the season would be few and far between,” said Hughes.

“We let him go because we couldn’t give him the opportunities he felt his talent deserved and I was in agreement with that.

“It is not easy to keep senior players happy and if you can’t even get them on the pitch and they are sat in the stand it becomes more of a problem.

“But if you have the opportunity to get good players in you have to get them into your club.

“At some point there will be good players in their own right who will have leave to make room for players coming in.”

Hughes believes with an increasing number of quality players becoming available to the Potters, helped by the influx of millions as part of next season’s new television deal, he will be able to continue improving year on year.

They have already displayed that in the last six months as they twice broke their transfer record with the £12million summer signing of Shaqiri eclipsed by January’s £18.3 arrival of Porto midfielder Giannelli Imbula.

“Players that have ambitions to go to the top clubs may find themselves without options and set their sights differently and you find very good players become available to you,” added Hughes.

“Those players have a desire to come to the Premier League and we can benefit from that as other teams become viable options.

“We will always be in the market for players who can take you to the next level.”

On Saturday Stoke have the chance to complete their first league double over Southampton since 1968.

General admission tickets have sold out for the 11th time in 14 home matches, and with a high number of hospitality bookings and Saints shifting their full allocation, the attendance is set to break the Britannia Stadium’s Premier League record of 27,742 for September’s match with Bournemouth.

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