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Stoke do not want to sell Crouch, insists Hughes

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes insists he does not want to sell out-of-favour striker Peter Crouch in the January transfer window.

The 34-year-old has been at the Britannia Stadium since 2011, but has not started a single Premier League match this season.

Crouch has only made three substitute appearances in the league, totalling 44 minutes on the pitch, but Hughes still wants to have the experienced forward in reserve in case of injuries.

"Peter has been unfortunate that he has had a couple of injuries – he is just coming back now," said the manager.

"He has had a week's training and was not ready to be involved over the weekend [against Everton], but he is a big part of what we do here. 

"He is going to get game time at some point. We are going to need everybody so he is very much in my thoughts.

"There is a little bit of speculation about players going out. I am not encouraging it, to be perfectly honest.

"We have got a big period, which we are right in the middle of now, where we have got a lot of significant games and we are going to need everybody.

"We know, unfortunately, that things change very quickly. You can get two or three injuries in the same position and you become a little bit stretched."

Hughes did suggest that his stance on allowing some of his fringe players to leave may change - but only much later in the month.

He added: "If, towards the end of the window, we think we can get game time into some of the players who have not had much, then we might consider it.

"As always, I like the options within the squad, and if you start sending people out too early in a key period, I don't think that is the right or logical thing to do."