Saido Berahino is yet to score for Stoke City
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Friday, April 21, 2017
Stoke boss Mark Hughes has emphasised his confidence that Saido Berahino will soon be scoring goals for the club.
Berahino’s wait for his first goal for the Potters, who he joined from West Brom in January, extended to a 10th appearance with Saturday’s 3-1 home win over Hull.
The 23-year-old forward made his sixth straight start in the game and was substituted by Hughes in the 58th minute, shortly after the visitors had equalised.
The decision to withdraw Berahino was booed by some Stoke fans, but the call was subsequently vindicated as his replacement Peter Crouch put the hosts 2-1 up by heading home a cross from Jonathan Walters, who had also come on just before the hour mark.
Asked about that at his press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea, Hughes said: “My interpretation is that a number of people didn’t agree with my decision to take him off.
“I just felt we needed to change our approach.
“My view was that Jon and Peter would give the opposition a different problem. You want your subs to have an impact and you have to say they did.
“It wasn’t a reflection on how Saido was playing – far from it, because I thought he had one of his more effective games.
“But I just thought we had got to a point in the game where we needed to change things around.”
Berahino arrived at Stoke having not played first-team football since September, a spell out of action at West Brom that included an eight-week Football Association ban after he tested positive for a recreational drug.
Hughes added on Friday: “I think everybody can see he is getting stronger. He needs a goal, which is what all strikers need, just to settle into a club.
“He’s been close in recent weeks and it’s only a matter of time.
“He will score goals before the end of the season, we are convinced of that – and even if he doesn’t he is going to be in great shape for next year.
“We were always of the view that next season would be when he could really hit the ground running, with a full pre-season behind him.
“But we’ve been really pleased with what he has produced up to this point and he is continuing to progress.
“He will probably be disappointed when the season ends, because he’s only just starting to get going.”
Hughes is hopeful of having two midfielders back available for this weekend’s contest in his native Wales, in compatriot Joe Allen – a former Swansea player – and Glenn Whelan.
The pair have trained this week after missing the Hull match due to a hamstring problem and virus respectively.
Goalkeeper Jack Butland was an unused substitute against the Tigers, returning to the matchday squad for the first time since fracturing his ankle just over a year ago.
And Hughes said regarding the goalkeeper’s chances of playing on Saturday: “There is a possibility.
“He will get game time at some point before the end of the season – we’ll see how he goes today.”
Saturday’s match is a second in a row for 11th-placed Stoke against an outfit battling for their Premier League lives, with Swansea currently lying 18th, two points adrift of 17th-placed Hull, with five games left to play.