sport

Hughes hoping for cup boost

Stoke boss Mark Hughes has urged his players to get their season up and running when they host Portsmouth in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday.

Following an opening day defeat by Aston Villa, Stoke struggled to overcome Hull City's 10 men at the Britannia Stadium on Sunday and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Hughes had been expecting his team to recover from the Villa defeat, but watched on in frustration as Stoke only managed three attempts on target against Hull.

"We didn't hit the levels we thought we would, and given the circumstances of the game we felt we could have created more clear-cut chances," said Hughes.

"We're certainly looking for an improvement. It's about dusting ourselves down, getting rid of all the cobwebs that seem to have surrounded us a little bit from pre-season, and getting on with the business in hand, which is winning football matches.

"But it's early days, with a number of guys at different levels in terms of fitness, and what we expect of them.

"I've seen that in a number of teams at the beginning of a season, which is a little bit to do with the World Cup, and people coming back at different times.

"It's understandable to a certain extent, but obviously we want to get up to speed as quickly as we can."

Hughes is wary of Portsmouth, who have started the current League Two campaign strongly, winning their last four matches and only conceding one goal.

And he is adamant the game provides an opportunity to build up confidence ahead of the Premier League clash with Manchester City at the weekend.

"It can be dangerous if we don't approach it in the right way," added Hughes. "But I've been with the guys in training and I see a determination to get back on track, to get back to where we need to be.

"Our focus will be solely on this game. We'll worry about Manchester City once this game has been put to bed.

"It will be about matching effort and commitment, and providing we do that then our quality will come through."