Stoke City: Potters manager Mark Hughes says 'let's see how far we can go'

Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri's stunning first goal at the Britannia Stadium earned Stoke City all three points against Newcastle
Xherdan Shaqiri's stunning first goal at the Britannia Stadium earned all three points against Newcastle

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is hoping his side have rediscovered their form in time for the business end of the season as they chase another best Premier League finish.

Stoke lost three games on the trot in the wake of their League Cup semi-final exit at Liverpool in January.

But they have responded to that with three straight wins, to go seventh.

"We're getting the momentum at the right time of the season," Potters boss Hughes told BBC Radio Stoke.

"We're not a million miles from where we wanted to be at this stage of the season, so let's see how far we can go.

"After three defeats, we wanted to bounce back and get some momentum. Maybe we've been guilty in the past of not being able to despatch teams, but we've done it by beating teams fighting for their lives."

How far can the Potters go?

Stoke's highest finish in a season is fourth in the old Division One, in 1935-36 and 1946-47.

Finishing fourth these days brings the added bonus of a Champions League place - and the Potters have moved to within five points of that prize following Wednesday night's 1-0 home win over Newcastle United.

Fifth or sixth place would mean a Europa League slot and the chance to repeat their adventure under Tony Pulis in 2011-12, when they got through two qualifying rounds against Hajduk Split and Thun and qualified from their group before bowing out at the last-32 stage to Valencia.

But the first target is to do what they have done for the last two seasons under Hughes and better the previous year's efforts.

Now in their eighth season in the top flight since being promoted under Pulis in 2008, Stoke came ninth two seasons ago, repeating that last May, but with a higher points total, 54 up from 50.

Currently on 42 points, Hughes' men need a further 13 from their final 10 games to better that total, the first on Saturday against one of his old clubs Chelsea, where the Potters have failed to pick up any points since promotion back to the top flight in 2008.

"Chelsea are in good form and winning games again," said Hughes. "But so are we."

One added plus is that captain Ryan Shawcross has been to see a German specialist about the back injury that has kept him out for seven games - and BBC Radio Stoke reports he is now in contention to return at Stamford Bridge.

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