Stoke V Hull at bet365 Stadium : Match Preview
Misfiring Berahino will come good, says Stoke boss Hughes
Stoke boss Mark Hughes is confident Saido Berahino is on the way back to his best, even as the striker searches for his first goal in 14 months.
Berahino's lean spell dates back to last February, when he netted West Brom's final goal in a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace, and a move to the Potters has yet to herald a change in fortunes.
After a spell out of favour at the Hawthorns, then an eight-week ban after testing positive for recreational drugs, Hughes built a certain amount of leeway into his expectations for the 23-year-old and does not expect to see his best work until next term.
A goal would speed the process along nicely, but when his best chance in nine appearances arrived against Liverpool last weekend, Reds keeper Simon Mignolet pulled off a save-of-the-season contender.
"Opportunities for him personally have been at a premium, I have to say," Hughes told talkSPORT ahead of his side's Premier League clash with Hull.
"Against Liverpool he had a great opportunity, did everything right and Mignolet made an outstanding save to thwart him.
"All strikers need a goal to get up and running when they're at a new club and he's striving to do that, but we've been really pleased with the work he's doing on and off the field, training really well. He wants to get back on track and we feel we're the right club for him.
"I think when Saido joined I said our expectation from the outset was more for next year. This year it's about getting back on track and back playing games."
Goalkeeper Jack Butland is moving closer to his long-awaited Stoke return and could make the bench against the Tigers.
Butland has been out since injuring his ankle with England in March 2016 but after featuring for the under-23s in midweek he could step up with Shay Given (back) a minor doubt.
Joe Allen has been ruled out after suffering a knock against Burnley, Jonathan Walters is a doubt and Ibrahim Afellay could be out for the season after undergoing a knee operation.
Hull go into the game with striker Abel Hernandez's future uncertain after he confirmed the club have not yet approached him for talks over an extended contract.
Hernandez, a reported B#16.8million target for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan in January and linked with several Premier League clubs, said he was focused solely on Hull's bid to escape relegation.
The Tigers travel to Stoke on Saturday and the Uruguay international appears happy to follow the lead of head coach Marco Silva, who revealed last week that his own future would be resolved at the end of the season.
"Now, there's more important things than what's going to happen with my future," said Hernandez.
"I'm thinking about Hull and what I want to do is help Hull stay in the Premier League."
Hull, promoted back to the top flight last May, are two points above the drop zone with six games remaining and the club's owners, the Allam family, appear to have put all contract talks on hold.
When asked if he had spoken to the club about an extended deal, the 26-year-old said: "No not yet. I haven't talked to the club yet, we haven't had a meeting.
"There were a lot of rumours about China, but the club never got an official offer for me.
"I'm calm, I have the manager to deal with, so there's nothing else at the moment."
Harry Maguire faces a late fitness test after the defender missed last week's defeat at Manchester City due to a knee injury.
Midfielder Tom Huddlestone is available after serving a three-match ban and striker Dieumerci Mbokani (hamstring) is back in contention, but defender Omar Elabdellaoui (back) is still out.