Stoke's Hughes defends Ivorian Bony ahead of West Brom clash

Reuters , Friday 23 Sep 2016

Wilfried Bony
Stoke City's Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony (Reuters)

Manager Mark Hughes has dismissed reports suggesting Wilfried Bony was causing unrest in the Stoke City dressing room, saying there are no issues with the on-loan striker's attitude.

Bony, who joined Stoke on a season-long loan from Manchester City in August, is yet to score in his three appearances this season and British media reports suggested the striker's attitude was causing disharmony within Hughes' squad.

"Let's nip this story in the bud. Unfortunately we are fair game for some areas of work, who feel they can get easy headlines," Hughes told reporters on Friday.

"It is very predictable, and it all comes up at these times and these situations. To question players is totally untrue. Wilfried has come in and made a real positive impact behind the scenes.

"He hasn't had too many games in the past year and he is still getting up to speed. To say we are questioning his attitude is totally wrong."

Hughes, who is one of the bookmakers' favourites to get sacked, has come under pressure after Stoke's woeful start to the campaign which has seen them yet to win in the league and conceding 14 goals in their five games so far.

The former Manchester City manager said he understands the criticism but was confident the bottom-placed club can get back to winning ways, starting with their league clash against 10th-placed West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

"It is to be expected when things aren't going well. I think I have proved in my time here that I can take this club in the right direction, which is the top half of the Premier League," Hughes said.

"Maybe next year we never hit the bottom spot, we didn't get the focus, but because we are sat there now we are getting the headlines.

"If you come back in a few months time and we are having the same conversation then it would be a different situation, but I don't think it will be."

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