Hughes pleased with Stoke depth
Hughes' men drew 2-2 at QPR last weekend before coming from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 in the third round of the League Cup.
The Welshman made six changes to his side for the cup clash at the Stadium of Light and was happy with the performance of his fringe players.
"I thought they all acquitted themselves really well and I was really pleased with the level of performance," he told Stoke's official website. "I feel that given the quality of the squad, even if I make changes, it isn't to the detriment of the team.
That's encouraging because we are going to need everybody.
"The players came in and looked up to speed, each and every one of them, and that's credit to the work they do on a daily basis.
"Gone are the days where you would religiously stick to the same starting 11 week in, week out.
"Of course you have to be mindful of the opposition, but we now have a squad where we can look at players who have come into form or maybe suffered a little drop in form and make any changes we feel are necessary."