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Mark Bowen optimistic Stoke can turn their season around after poor start
Stoke's players and coaching staff are frustrated but united in their confidence they can turn things around for the club, according to assistant boss Mark Bowen.
The Potters are bottom of the Premier League after taking just one point from the opening five fixtures of their campaign. They have suffered four league losses in a row, with three of those seeing Mark Hughes' men concede four times.
They had only one point more after five games last term, before going on to finish ninth for a third successive season under Hughes' management.
And, speaking ahead of Wednesday's EFL Cup third-round home clash with Hull, Bowen said: "Everybody is frustrated and disappointed.
"Certainly, there is a realisation that things aren't going for us at the moment. We are making silly mistakes and being heavily punished for it.
"But there is a feeling of togetherness and we still know we are a decent side. In the last three years we have had three top-10 finishes, and many of the players are still the same.
"It's just a situation at the moment we know we'll come through - we have too many good players and strong characters (not to). We've been there before and we'll have the same outcome again.
"The season is over 38 games and this time last year, we had the same sort of negative comments from outside the club that there's a real worry - and the people who were saying that were asking in March 'can you get Champions League football?'
"We know what we're about.
"We're definitely hurting, but the relationships in the dressing room - between players, and staff and players - are good.
"Everybody is together. We have to get ourselves out of this situation, and there's confidence we will."
Asked if he felt the achievements of the last few past seasons bought Hughes some time with Stoke chairman Peter Coates and with the club's fans, Bowen said: "You'd hope so.
"The fans want the best for their club and they are frustrated - their expectations are way up there, the same as ours. You'd like to think or hope we've earned some credit with them.
"They know what we can do and what we're good at. They know what we've produced and what the end product will be."
Coates has stressed his support for Hughes - but also emphasised things must start improving quickly for the Potters.
Quoted by The Sentinel, the chairman said: "He's our manager and he's got our support. We've played five games.
"He's been around the block. We've finished ninth three times and that tells you he's got experience.
"We are disappointed to be where we are. It has been a poor start to the season.
"We need to start winning matches, the sooner the better, and as soon as we do that it changes everything.
"We've got experienced players and they've got to do better."
Hull fans can expect to see the fruits of the club's belated transfer window trolley dash as Mike Phelan rings the changes for the trip to Stoke.
Phelan has named the same starting XI for all five of his club's Premier League outings to date but a third-round visit to the Bet365 Stadium represents the perfect chance to rest some weary legs and blood new faces.
After dragging their feet for the majority of the summer, to former boss Steve Bruce's chagrin, the Tigers finally bolstered a paper-thin squad at the 11th hour and Phelan has now got options at his disposal.
The club's record signing Ryan Mason, who arrived from Tottenham in a deal that could be worth up to B#13million, has had to make do with two substitute appearances but will now expect to get the run of the midfield.
In attack Abel Hernandez and Adama Diomande have been shouldering the burden, but Phelan has a chance to pair former Manchester United prospect Will Keane with loanee Dieumerci Mbokani, the latter having won a consolation penalty at Arsenal on Saturday.
In the previous round, a 3-1 win at Exeter, Phelan retained more first-teamers than he ideally wanted to and will not have his hand forced this time.
"We took on Exeter with a side made up mainly of players who had been involved the previous Saturday," Phelan told the club's official website.
"Now we have a group of players who need games. We have six new players compared to when we played in the last round, plus a few others who need games and we'll pick a team to face the challenge of Stoke.
"The players have committed themselves really well up to this point, but we have to have a look at them physically now and try and recharge.
"It's down to me now as to who starts."