Date: 1st January 2018 at 7:52pm
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A crucial defeat at home to Newcastle United on New Year’s Day saw protests from Stoke City supporters about manager Mark Hughes and left the Welshman facing a barrage of questions about his future at the after-match press conference which he departed from early.

The loss left Stoke just two points above the relegation zone and came two days after a heavy reverse at Chelsea for which Hughes had made a number of changes with the Newcastle game in mind.

They have a break from top-flight action for now as it is the Ricoh Arena next for Stoke and an FA Cup Third Round tie against a Coventry City side three divisions below but in confident mood after grinding out another 1-0 victory against Chesterfield to move into the automatic promotion places.

‘In terms of the knowledge of the group and the progress in my time here, I’m the best person to do it,’ said Hughes when interviewed at full-time at the bet365 Stadium.

‘The players are frustrated, disappointed, but that’s a consequence of the high standards that I’ve set here.’

Whoever takes charge of the Potters in CV6 is likely to make a number of changes in any case, the FA Cup now taking a clear second-best to survival in the Premier League despite the feel-good factor it could engender in the Stoke area were they to make a run to the quarter or semi-finals.

That could mean starts for the likes of Stephen Ireland, the midfielder having recovered from a severe injury, and goal-shy striker Saido Berahino.