Hughes insists Bojan has Stoke future

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Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has assured Bojan Krkic he has a future at the club.

Former Barcelona forward Bojan has been frustrated by a lack of first-team opportunities this term, starting only five times in the Premier League and finding himself an unused substitute on 10 occasions.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's trip to face runaway leaders Chelsea, Hughes confirmed discussions had taken place with Bojan and his representatives over the player's plight.

And the manager expects the attacker to benefit from increased opportunities when Wilfried Bony, Mame Biram Diouf and Ramadan Sobhi depart for the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

"Bojan's people came in and we had a discussion," Hughes told a pre-match news conference.

"Obviously Bojan hasn't had too many starts of late and it's been more to do with a slight change in formation.

"He's missed out and, given circumstances in games when we've been protecting leads, he hasn't had the right opportunity from the bench.

"I made my feelings known. Clearly he wants to play more and I want to give him more games between now and the end of the season.

"He's very well thought of, an outstanding player and he's going to get good game time between now and the end of the year.

"He's had that explained to him and his advisors. My position is clear. I want him to stay.

"We've got three attacking players leaving in January for the African Cup of Nations and so he's going to get game time in January."

The visit to Stamford Bridge concludes a daunting post-Christmas week for Hughes' men, who led 1-0 at Anfield on Tuesday through Jonathan Walters before being dispatched 4-1 by Liverpool amid a clutch of costly defensive errors.

Chelsea are on a 12-match winning run under Antonio Conte but Hughes is a firm believer that such records are there to be broken.

"They are very strong at the moment. They set up strong defensively with a formation that's working very well for them," said the Welshman, who will again be without injured defensive duo Geoff Cameron and Marc Muniesa, while Marko Arnautovic completes a three-game suspension.

"The manager [Conte] is clearly very comfortable with that. He has had good success from that at national level and as soon as they started to use [three centre-backs] their results started to improve. They can be defensively strong and know players up front can win games for them.

"But that run will come to an end at some point. I don't think anybody thinks they will win every game from now until the end of the season and hopefully it's us that puts an end to it."