Hughes eyeing top-half finish for Stoke

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has credited his players' self-belief as they close in on their the club's first top-half Premier League finish.

The Welshman arrived at the Britannia Stadium at the start of the season, replacing Tony Pulis after a seven-year reign, and immediately set ambitious goals for his players.

Stoke currently sit 10th in the table on 44 points and are on course to better both their highest ever Premier League finish (11th) and their record points haul (47).

"We set ourselves a challenge at the beginning of the year and we're on course," Hughes said. "I sat them down and said this is what we are going to try and do.

"Given that the points total was higher than they had ever got before, maybe some of them in the room didn't believe it was possible.

"But credit to them, they have really focused on what we needed to do and hit almost every target we have set them during the season.

"I think a lot of people at the beginning of the season thought we would have difficulty competing, but we have been okay and we're in a great position to finish off the season in a good way.

"The lads have been great and have brought what we are doing to other people's attention, and now people are aware we are doing okay.

"But we've still got to achieve things. I always try to set targets which will enable the team I'm at to go for something they haven't achieved before."