Matchwinner Crouch still as a huge role at Stoke City - Hughes
Peter Crouch is still a vital part of Stoke City's squad, according to Mark Hughes, after the veteran striker came off the bench to net a late winner against Southampton.
Maya Yoshida's excellent volley looked set to snatch a share of the spoils for the Saints, but Crouch downed his former club in the 85th minute when he tucked home from close range.
Crouch has made five top-flight appearances so far this term, but is yet to start a league fixture, and only made 13 starts last term.
Hughes, however, says the 36-year-old is still a key player for the Potters moving forward.
"Peter wants to play more games and wants more starts, but as a sub coming on he gives the opposition something more to deal with," Hughes said.
"He has a huge role here and has come up trumps for us late in the day. We got over the line in the end.
"We had to be vigilant, had to dig in and in terms of the performance, we have played better, like against Chelsea, where we got beaten. That is how football is."
Crouch came on in place of Saido Berahino, who had a penalty saved by Fraser Forster on the stroke of half-time, moments after Mame Biram Diouf had headed Stoke in front.
Despite the penalty miss, however, Hughes was pleased with Berahino's display, and believes the former West Brom man will get his first Stoke goal sooner rather than later despite now not netting in 31 hours and 48 minutes of Premier League football.
"It is a shame for Saido, I thought he did well," Hughes said.
"He showed personality to grab the ball and unfortunately the keeper batted the penalty away.
"He will always be judged on goals. He is working hard, he is in good physical condition but his time will come."
31 - Saido Berahino is now without a goal in 31 hours & 23 minutes of Premier League football (Stoke & WBA combined). Misery. pic.twitter.com/rQzoapIZQz-- OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 30, 2017
Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino, meanwhile, believes his side deserved more following their spirited comeback.
"We deserved a little bit more. We controlled the ball and put them under pressure," Pellegrino told BBC Sport.
"We were unlucky at the end and have to congratulate the opponent. We played with character and gave everything. We have to keep believing."