Stoke boss Hughes denies ‘problem’ with club record signing

Date published: Monday 6th March 2017 8:19

Stoke manager Mark Hughes insists he does not have any issues with club record signing Giannelli Imbula, despite leaving him out of his matchday squad on Saturday.

The French midfielder was a surprise exclusion from the Potters’ matchday 18 at the weekend as Middlesbrough were beaten 2-0.

The 24-year-old midfielder, signed for a club record £18.3million in February 2016, has made only one league appearance so far in 2017.

Asked on Monday if there was a problem in terms of Imbula, Hughes said: “No, not really.

“Clearly, we wanted Gi to be involved at first-team level, and really pushing to get in the first 11.

“That hasn’t happened for him as well as we would have hoped, and at the weekend, it was just a case that we needed to cover other eventualities and he missed out.

“But that’s not to say that he won’t be involved on Wednesday.”

Hughes confirmed Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri will be available for Wednesday’s game with Manchester City after missing the last five due to a calf problem.

But Bruno Martins Indi has been rated as “very doubtful” for the contest having picked up a knee injury in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Middlesbrough. Hughes says the defender “should be okay in a number of days”.

Winger Marko Arnautovic (illness), scorer of a brace against Boro, and full-back Glen Johnson (shoulder) will be assessed.

Striker Wilfried Bony, who was left out of the squad for a third successive match on Saturday, is on loan from City and so ineligible for the game at the Etihad Stadium.

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