Hughes keen for Crouch stay

Mark Hughes is keen for Peter Crouch to remain at Stoke City amid rumours of a possible swoop from QPR in January.

The 33-year-old has not always been a first-team regular at the Britannia Stadium this term and has started just nine of Stoke's 16 Premier League matches.

However, Crouch has shown his value to Stoke by scoring in their last two top-flight games - an impressive 3-2 victory over Arsenal and last weekend's 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.

QPR boss Harry Redknapp has previously spoken of his admiration for Crouch, who he managed at former clubs Portsmouth, Southampton and Tottenham. 

But Hughes is reluctant for Crouch to end his near three-and-a-half-year stay, and insists he remains an important part of Stoke's plans.

"Crouchy has done well," the Stoke manager said. "He has been in and out of the team, but he has been tremendous recently. We are pleased with what he is doing.

"Peter knows we are are keen to keep him. It would be difficult to replace him. He is a big part of what we do here."

Stoke's next Premier League game sees leaders Chelsea visit the Britannia Stadium.

While the match represents a daunting task on paper, Hughes believes playing the league's top teams suits his side, with Stoke having beaten Tottenham, Manchester City and Arsenal this season.

"When we go up against so-called bigger teams who are prepared to take chances against us, we have been able to exploit them," he added. "We have found it difficult against teams who come here and sit back.

"My view is that they are the top team in the league at the moment. I think their mentality is strong and they have outstanding ability. They believe in themselves."

Hughes also expects forward Bojan Krkic to feature despite suffering a hip injury at Palace last weekend.