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Hughes confident of maintaining recent form

Stoke City manager Mark Hughes believes his team can continue to climb the table after their 1-0 win over relegation-threatened Newcastle United at the Britannia Stadium.

The clash looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw until Xherdan Shaqiri unleashed a stunning effort from outside the area, firing home the winner in the 80th minute to push Stoke up into seventh in the Premier League.

Hughes' men have now won their past three Premier League games and the Welshman, whose side face Chelsea on Saturday, insists they can maintain their winning run.

He told reporters: "We got the ball down, got it out wide to good effect and got balls in without anyone getting on the end of them.

"But we kept going and Shaq has worked a good position on the edge of the box and it was a great strike worthy of winning any game. That's three wins on the bounce and I said before this game it's important to get momentum at this time of year.

"We've got a game at Chelsea on Saturday which will test us, but we'll look forward to that and we are confident of a good total by the end of the year.

"The way we work and train and the standards we like to keep sustains us at this time of year. We don't let the team let their focus and energy drop."

Stoke had Jack Butland to thank late on when he denied Seydou Doumbia and Hughes said the goalkeeper had once again shown glimpses of his potential.

Although Hughes heads into the weekend full of confidence, he has a fresh injury worry after right-back Phil Bardsley aggravated the calf injury he picked up against Aston Villa.