Odemwingie form pleases Stoke's Hughes

Stoke manager Mark Hughes is backing Peter Odemwingie to find a new lease of life after the striker finally ended his goal drought.

Referee Neil Swarbrick speaks with Peter Odemwingi

At the end of the January transfer window, Hughes signed Odemwingie from Cardiff in a swap deal which saw Kenwyne Jones head to south Wales.

The 32-year-old striker opened his account for the Potters in a 2-2 draw at Southampton on Saturday, his first goal for four months and in 16 matches.

Ahead of Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium with Swansea, who were linked with a move for Odemwingie last summer, Hughes believes the Nigerian has been a breath of fresh air.

"We have been really pleased with him since he came in," said Hughes.

"He is a good personality. He's certainly added to the team and the group, and his goal at the weekend showed what he brings to the table in an area where we were lacking.

"He is a player who is prepared to run in behind with pace, and then have a cool head and the ability to take chances when presented.

"All in all we have been very pleased with what he has produced.

"He has only had three games with us, so he is going to get better the more games he plays.

"But the initial reaction, with what he brings to the party, is really good."

Given the situation in the bottom half of the table, with 11 clubs separated by just seven points, Hughes knows every game against one of those teams is vital.

With Swansea leading that pack of 11 in 10th place, and with Stoke a point adrift, the game is one of those City must not lose if they are to steer clear of relegation.

"It's important because they are in and around us, one point away," assessed Hughes.

"Because of the way the league is, with so many teams in and around the same area, the same points total, you need to take points off those teams.

"That's the situation we have in front of us, and against a Swansea side that had a good result at the weekend (beating Cardiff 3-0).

"But we feel we're in decent form after beating Manchester United last time out at the Britannia and putting in a good performance at Southampton.

"So we're obviously now looking to build on that."

The Britannia Stadium is again proving to be a fortress for City as with just two league defeats on home soil this season they have one of the best records outside of the top six.

With a bleak night forecast, Hughes is expecting his players to not only tame Swansea, but also the elements.

"Home games determine what kind of season you have," said Hughes.

"We know our away form (one win in 13) is our Achilles heel, it's holding us back.

"We addresed it somewhat against Southampton, but certainly our good home form is something we want to continue.

"And if the elements are poor then we've guys who will roll up their sleeves, get on with it and make things happen for us.

"I enjoyed that as a player. You just have to get your work done and effect every game you play in, making sure you get after the opposition and play your own game, and that's what we'll do."

Hughes is likely to be without strikers Marko Arnautovic (ankle) and Oussama Assaidi (hamstring), along with centre-back Robert Huth (knee), but Marc Wilson is poised to return after illness.



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