Crouch backs Hughes to lead Stoke towards Europe

Stoke City striker Peter Crouch has backed manager Mark Hughes to guide the club towards a potential challenge to qualify for Europe in the seasons ahead, Sky Sports has reported.

Hughes has recently signed a new contract with the Potters, keeping him at the Britannia Stadium until the summer of 2019, and during that time he will look to build on two very solid seasons. He is on course to achieve a second consecutive top-half finish, having ended ninth last term after taking over from Tony Pulis.

The former Welsh international player and manager has successfully implemented a new style of play at Stoke, and having cemented their place as a side that challanges for a place in the top 10, the aim now is likely to be to make it into the Europa League.

Revealing their ambitions, Crouch said: “We try and improve each year. We finished in the top 10 for the first time in the club’s history last year, and we’ve been in the top 10 for a while now. We can finish as high up as eighth – which is a possibility – that’s what we’re hoping to do.We’ve got a good points total and if we beat last year’s, that’ll be a great achievement.

“If we finish in the top 10 again this year – eighth is probably the target – then next year we can build and start going for Europe.”

The Midlands club has competed in the Europa League once before, making the knockout stages of the 2011-12 competition before losing to Valencia in the Round of 32. Their qualification came as a result of reaching the 2011 FA Cup final.

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