Hughes targets early deals for Stoke

Mark Hughes is keen to ensure Stoke City do not wait until the end of January to bolster their squad.

Stoke were renowned for making deadline-day signings under former manager Tony Pulis, who left the club in the close-season and is now in charge of Crystal Palace.

However, Hughes is eager to bring in players long before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

"We are looking to get our deals done early, because that will help us in the long run," the current Stoke boss said ahead of Saturday's FA Cup third-round tie against Leicester City.

"There are players out there that we have targeted and hopefully a couple of them will fall for us sooner, rather than later."

Hughes reiterated his willingness to bring in attacking reinforcements, while revealing he has no plans to bolster his defence.

Marc Wilson has impressed at centre-half in recent weeks and the man he has filled in for, Robert Huth, is nearing a return following knee surgery.

"I have been delighted with Marc Wilson's performances in Robert's absence, so there is no need to look for another central defender at this moment in time," Hughes added.

"I want to address a few things in the final third if we can, and then take a look at other areas in the summer.

"Robert Huth returned to training today (Friday), which was good. Hopefully, early next week he can join in with the full group, and by the time the Liverpool game comes around (on January 12) he may be back in full training.

"He won't be back for that game, but hopefully if the training goes well then he will be available sooner rather than later."

Stoke are still waiting to discover the extent of the Achilles injury goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen suffered against Everton on New Year's Day.

With Asmir Begovic (broken finger) also unavailable, Jack Butland will start against Leicester and there will be a place on the bench for Austrian teenager Daniel Bachmann.

"With regards to the goalkeeping situation, it depends on Thomas' situation," Hughes explained.

"If he is going to be long-term then we will have a look at a few things and try to get somebody in, but if not then we will stick with what we have. For Saturday's game, Daniel Bachmann will be on the bench, and I have no worries about that."