Mark Hughes plays down 'must-win' talk over Stoke v Sunderland

Though the Potters have not won a Premier League match since August, the manager insists that there is no need to panic, while noting that Gus Poyet has improved the visitors
Mark Hughes is confident that Stoke City will turn their fortunes around but expects a stern test from Sunderland on Saturday.

The Potters are only above the Premier League's bottom three on goal difference following a dismal run of eight games without a win. Their last league victory came in August against West Ham and the visit of Gus Poyet's strugglers will be seen as a great opportunity to get back on track.

Hughes played down the importance of the game against the Wearsiders, although the former Manchester City manager knows that his side will have their work cut out.

"I wouldn't describe Saturday's game as a must-win because we are still early in the season," he told the media, "but there is no doubt about it: We could do with winning the game.

11/2 Stoke are 11/2 with Bet365 to beat Sunderland 1-0
"We haven't taken the points that we would have liked up until now but hopefully we can address that, starting on Saturday.

"Sunderland will be a different proposition than they were, say, three weeks ago. They will be buoyed by their recent results and they will come here in confident mood but we aren't in too bad shape ourselves and we will be going out there on our front foot looking to get the three points that we are desperate for."

Despite Stoke's perilous position, Hughes has been encouraged by their performances so far this season.

He added: "We all have a lot of belief here. We have come up against some very good sides so far and acquitted ourselves really well.

"Obviously we would have liked to have taken a greater amount of points from those games but there are positives which we have taken out of the performances."

The Stoke boss revealed that striker Kenwyne Jones is a doubt for the game against his former club after picking up a slight back problem while on international duty with Trinidad and Tobago.