sport

Hughes backs Odemwingie

Mark Hughes has backed Peter Odemwingie to fire Stoke to safety after the striker ended his goal drought at the weekend.

The Stoke manager signed Odemwingie from Cardiff and the striker finally opened his account for Stoke in a 2-2 draw at Southampton on Saturday - his first goal for four months and in 16 matches.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday's Premier League clash at the Britannia Stadium with Swansea, who were linked with a move for Odemwingie last summer, Hughes said: "We have been really pleased with him since he came in.

"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."