Stoke boss Mark Hughes hints at Jack Butland return
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 21/04/17 12:04pm
Mark Hughes has confirmed Jack Butland is in contention to make his first Premier League start in over a year when Stoke City travel to Swansea on Saturday.
Butland has not featured for the Potters since March 2016 after breaking his ankle while in action for England against Germany.
The 24-year-old was on the bench for last weekend's 3-1 win over Hull City and Hughes is happy with the progress he has made in training.
"Jack has had another really good week and I think it is fair to say that he is in my mind," the Welshman said. "This weekend is a possibility of course, but I will see how he goes in training today.
"Whatever my decision is though, he will definitely be getting game-time over the coming weeks because it is important to get him out there so we know he is going to be fully ready to go again next season."
January signing Saido Berahino has started Stoke's last six Premier matches but is still searching for his first Potters goal and was hauled off after 58 minutes against Hull for Peter Crouch, who quickly scored.
Berahino is now without a goal in 10 appearances for his new club but Hughes remains optimistic the former West Brom forward will soon find the net.
"I think everybody can see that he is getting stronger," Hughes said. "He needs a goal. That is what all strikers need just to settle into a club and he has been close in recent weeks.
"It is only a matter of time. Maybe people thought he deserved a few more minutes because he was getting close but those are the decisions I, as a manager, have to take.
"But, as we have seen, Saido is getting closer to the level we know he is capable of and he'll score goals before the end of the season. We are convinced of that.
"Even if he doesn't, he is going to be in great shape for next year. He was always of the view that next year would when he could really hit the ground running with a full pre-season behind him.
"He'll probably be disappointed when the season ends because he is only getting going again."
Hughes is hopeful of having midfield duo Joe Allen and Glenn Whelan back available for the game at the Liberty Stadium.
Allen, an ex-Swans player, and Whelan have trained this week after missing the victory over Hull last weekend due to a hamstring problem and virus respectively. Forward Jon Walters' knee issue is being monitored, but he should be fine to be involved.