Football - Hughes backs players for cup run

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has no doubt his side have it in them to go all the way to the Capital One Cup final this season.

PA Sport Report

As a player Hughes won the League Cup on three occasions - one time each at Manchester United, Chelsea and Blackburn.

And as a manager he got both Rovers and Manchester City to the semi-finals, although in the latter case he lost his job before the last-four tie took place.

The Welshman has been in charge of the Potters since the summer and is feeling optimistic about his chances of more success in the competition this term.

Speaking ahead of the third round trip to Sky Bet League One outfit Tranmere, Hughes told Stoke Player: "It is a good competition for me - it has been as a player and I've done okay as a manager, getting to a couple of semi-finals.

"It would be nice this year to go one step further if we can, and it is certainly within our capabilities.

"A lot of Premier League sides are playing each other in this round, so that will take a number of teams out of the equation.

"So if we can get through this round, then hopefully we can keep on progressing."

Stoke have made a fairly encouraging start to the season, taking seven points from their opening five top-flight fixtures as well as seeing off Walsall, another third tier team, 3-1 at home in the Capital One Cup second round.

They have also earned praise for what has been regarded as an improved playing style compared to their seasons under previous manager Tony Pulis.

Hughes feels things are going well but has stressed his Potters side are still very much a work in progress.

And with that in mind, he does not view the fact the Staffordshire outfit have to play the Tranmere tie just three days after their 3-1 league defeat at Arsenal as a bad thing at all.

"The more games we can play, the better for the group in terms of what we are trying to do," Hughes said.

"At this point in the season, we are still very much a work in progress, so games will help us.

"We will get better as we play more often together.

"I feel we have taken huge strides in a small space of time but we need to keep the performance levels going in the right direction."

Hughes, who made eight changes to his first XI for the Walsall game, will reshuffle his pack.

Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen will definitely come in for the rested Asmir Begovic, while Erik Pieters will sit the contest out having picked up a calf problem that is not expected to threaten his involvement in Sunday's home league match against Norwich.

Fellow defender Marc Muniesa is available to play again after his groin injury.

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