Mark Hughes yesterday dismissed any rumours that he has any issues over club-record signing, Giannelli Imbula.

The Frenchman has not featured for Stoke since they crashed out of the FA Cup against Wolves in embarrassing fashion, and didn’t even make the match-day squad for Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough, but Hughes has stated there is no rift between him and Imbula.

When asked about any issues with Imbula, Hughes said: “No, not really. Clearly, we wanted Gi to be involved at first-team level, and really pushing to get in the first XI.

“That hasn’t happened for him as well as we would have hoped, and at the weekend it was just a case that we needed to cover other eventualities and he missed out, but that’s not to say that he won’t be involved on Wednesday.”

Imbula has been linked with a move back to former club Marseille this week, and West Ham have reported an interest in the 24-year-old, but Hughes will be hoping that Imbula can turn around his fortunes at Stoke City, and show why the Welshman invested so much money into the playmaker.

Upon his arrival, Imbula earned many plaudits from the Stoke City faithful for his performances, and after his stellar performance earlier on in the season against Watford, team-mate Jonathan Walters claimed Imbula was “one of the best players he had played with.”

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