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Stoke boss Mark Hughes feared Joe Allen could have joined Swansea
Joe Allen will line up against his boyhood club Swansea for Stoke on Monday but Potters boss Mark Hughes feared it might have been the other way around.
The midfielder left Liverpool in the summer after failing to hold down a regular place in the starting line-up at Anfield.
Swansea, the club Allen first joined as a 10-year-old before leaving in 2012, were keen to take him back but it was Stoke who won the battle.
The 26-year-old has made an immediate impression at the bet365 Stadium and has proved unexpectedly prolific in front of goal with four goals in his last four games.
Hughes believes Stoke's performances in last season's league cup semi-final against Liverpool, which the Reds eventually won on penalties, played a big part in persuading Allen to "take a leap of faith".
The Potters boss said: "Obviously we were a little bit worried about that emotional tie that maybe he might have had for his previous club because he had a great time there, but I sensed very quickly once we had the opportunity to speak to Joe, his motivation was to get back to playing week in, week out, and he had seen us at first hand as an opposition team.
"I think we'd impressed him, certainly in the cup semi-final, he saw the quality of players we had. When we had the conversation and made it known that we'd love him to come and be part of what we were doing, I think he remembered that and could see how he could fit in.
"And we've been delighted with what he's produced. He's not only technically a very good player, an intelligent player, he's added goals, which is a bonus because we didn't anticipate that. His demeanour and his personality has added to the group as well.
"We feel very fortunate that he decided we were the right option for him. Sometimes you're the right club at the right time for the right player, and I think that's what happened with Joe.
"He could have maybe taken an easier option to go back to Swansea because it's an area and a club he knows but he took a leap of faith with us and I think he's benefited and so have we. Clearly I thought he was a good player, I paid B#13million for him, but he's even surpassed that."
Allen has been at the fore in Stoke's upturn in form after a difficult start, with the Potters taking eight points from their last four games, and they will look to make it three wins in a row against Swansea.
Another key figure has been fellow midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored two spectacular goals in last weekend's win over Hull.
That took the Swiss star's tally to three, already as many as he managed in the whole of his first season in the Premier League following last summer's B#12million move from Inter Milan.
Hughes said: "Shaq last year was coming to terms with the Premier League. It's more difficult for attacking players. You can come in as a full-back, midfield player or sometimes centre-half and just ease yourself in and get used to it while you're playing.
"Shaq was our record signing at the time so there was a lot of focus on him and what he was going to bring to the team. It's difficult to affect games in every game you play.
"I think that's what he was finding difficult but he's come back from his summer break and the Euros and it looks really like the penny's dropped. It looks like he understands what's required now and we're going to benefit from that clearly."
Meanwhile, Bob Bradley believes his Spanish strikers possess the fire power to steer Swansea away from relegation danger.
Swansea come up against their last regular goalscorer on Monday night, with Wilfried Bony leading the Stoke line at the bet365 Stadium.
Bony scored 34 in 70 appearances before joining Manchester City in January 2015 and Swansea have struggled to fill the void left by the muscular Ivorian.
Spanish pair Fernando Llorente and Borja Baston - Swansea's record B#15.5million signing from Atletico Madrid in August - are now tasked with supplying Premier League goals at the Liberty Stadium.
But they have both scored only once so far in stuttering campaigns affected by injury.
"Borja was an important signing for the club. He's still adjusting to a new club and a new league," Swansea manager Bradley said.
"Fernando has had a little bit of an injury, so we haven't been able since I arrived to get everything out of him.
"But I'm hoping we have dangerous players. Gylfi (Sigurdsson) has found good positions in two matches and scored an excellent goal against Arsenal.
"We're trying to taking advantage of the talent we have and improve in terms of creating advantages and know how to score goals and become more of a threat.
"I certainly am hopeful that with Fernando and Borja we have players with enough talent and that we can turn them into big goalscorers for our team."