Mark Hughes boosted by Kurt Zouma availability for Stoke against Southampton
Last Updated: 29/09/17 11:11am
Mark Hughes says Stoke are in "better shape" for Saturday's visit of Southampton, with Kurt Zouma set to return to the side.
The Potters boss admits a number of defenders remain injured but is delighted Zouma is available again after sitting out last weekend's defeat by his parent club, Chelsea.
Hughes is hopeful Geoff Cameron could make his comeback from injury but confirmed Bruno Martins Indi and Ryan Shawcross remain absentees, while Kevin Wimmer is unlikely to face the Saints.
Speaking at Friday's pre-match press conference, Hughes said: "Bruno's out for a number of weeks. He did his groin near the end last week and couldn't continue. I'd say two or three more weeks.
"We're hopeful on Geoff Cameron. He's probably the only one who we feel could play this week.
"Ryan Shawcross is not available and Kevin Wimmer - it's only been 10 days since his injury - so playing him would be risk. He's not trained all week."
Martins Indi left the pitch in the 78th minute against Chelsea, while Shawcross has not featured since the end of August, with Cameron absent for the past three weeks.
But Hughes is happy with the availability of on-loan Zouma, who joined Stoke on a season-long deal in July.
"The one positive is Kurt Zouma. He's back," Hughes added. "He was not injured but ineligible for the Chelsea game because they were his parent club.
"We're really happy with the way he's settled in. He's brought pace and power, physicality, which sometimes last year we were lacking.
"He's brought a presence to our backline and improved our capacity to defend. He's got a great future ahead of him.
"We're part of his development this season and we'll benefit from that. All in all we've been pleased with him.
"And we'll be in better shape this week from a defensive personnel point."
Stoke suffered a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea with Alvaro Morata scoring a hat-trick, but Hughes felt the result was unfair on his side.
"For long periods we were in the game," he said. "Up to 70 minutes they (Chelsea) had two shots and were leading 2-0.
"These are fine margins. It certainly wasn't a 4-0. We had chances and I felt they should have had a player sent-off.
"It could easily have been 2-1, them down to 10 men, and we're back in the game.
"There's been times when we have lost 4-0 or 4-1, and deserved to lose. But that wasn't the case last week.
"We gave a good account of ourselves and we were hampered by having a lack of personnel in central defensive positions."
He added: "We have performed better than our 16th position. We've had some difficult home games - Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.
"And we got a win, a loss, and a draw, from these three which we would have taken before.
"We've got Man City after the international break - another difficult game - and then get through to when we'll have a more accommodating period when other teams are having a tough fixture schedule."