Mark Hughes not giving up on Stoke's Europa League chase

Mark Hughes has challenged Stoke City to go unbeaten for the rest of the season in a bid to get their bid for European football back on track.

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has challenged his side to go unbeaten for the final eight games of the season, adding he has not given up hope of bringing European football back to the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters travel to Watford on Saturday sitting in ninth place with 43 points - six adrift of fifth-placed West Ham United - in the race for Europa League qualification.

And despite the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Southampton also being in the mix, Hughes insists his team has no intention of throwing in the towel.

"We have shown how good we can be at times this season, but frustratingly we have shown the other side of our game too," he told Stoke City's official YouTube channel.

"We want to challenge ourselves and I have challenged the guys to end the season unbeaten.

"It won't be easy, but it is a realistic ambition. We have good players here. Hopefully we can look back on the season with pride."

"It is the business end of the season and there are eight games to go. If we set about things correctly and have a bit of luck, which you need, then we will do fine." 



Stoke travel to Vicarage Road with key players Ryan Shawcross and Xherdan Shaqiri both sidelined, taking the club's total injury count to seven - the second highest in the top flight.

And the Welshman admits the club's injury woes have proved a setback in achieving their ambitions for the season.

He added: "It is no coincidence that when you look at Leicester, who have been able to play the same team week in week out,that they are at the top of the league.

"We haven't had that luxury sadly."

But Hughes is convinced that while a Europa League campaign would add further strain on his squad, the pros would still outweigh the cons.

"I can understand people questioning the difficulties of playing Thursday and Sunday, having maybe travelled across the continent, but we would take that inconvenience just to experience it again.

"We enjoyed the moments in Europe a few years ago and I would love to take Stoke back there.

"Look at the clubs who are involved in that competition - huge European clubs, so we would love to pit our wits against them."

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