Mark Hughes has today defended striker Wilfried Bony after the summer signing has come under heavy criticism from a range of media outlets after not scoring for Stoke City so far this season.

Bony, 27, is yet to find the net for The Potters, and after seven consecutive starts, has come under increased scrutiny from the media.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference today, Hughes said: “Wilf is getting better; in every game he’s having more of an impact.”

Hughes hinted that he will stick by his man, as he has called on him to deliver the goods against his former club on Monday night.

“Up to this point he hasn’t been able to do it, but maybe, against his former team, that’s the game that’s going to get him up and running.

“You think of the amount of times that happens, when a former player comes back and haunts you as a manager, and you never know – Wilf might be able to do that to Swansea. Let’s hope so.”

Another Stoke City striker who’s seemingly having a tough time of it is Peter Crouch. On Saturday night, Twitter user, @J5Diamond tweeted the Stoke centre-forward in regards to Crouch’s ability on the video game FIFA 17, in which Crouch appeared to have a sly dig at Hughes, and his lack of playing time by quoting the tweet, responding: “At least I’m getting a game somewhere.”

Whilst the dig was light-hearted, Hughes could have taken it the wrong way. Thankfully, for Crouch, Hughes was amused by his Twitter antics.

“Pete’s quite sharp on Twitter, so I always keep a look out once people tell me he’s been on there. Usually it’s quite amusing.

“It’s probably true; he’s a little bit frustrated, but it is what it is. He’s showing good signs in training. When it’s the right time to introduce him again then we will do that.”

Hughes’ assistant, Mark Bowen issued a warning to fellow striker, Bojan Krkic earlier today, claiming that ‘patience is the key’ for the Spaniard, and Hughes echoed that sentiment to Crouch today.

“He’s just got to be patient like a number of people are at the moment, because we’re winning games and playing well so it’s difficult to break in.”

Michael Owen also defended his former team-mate Crouch, claiming that he should be starting ahead of Bony at Stoke.

Speaking on Premier League Tonight on BT Sport, Owen claimed: “I don’t particularly rate him [Bony] to be honest. I think my old mate Crouchy should be starting for Stoke.”

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