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 By PA Sport

Stoke manager Mark Hughes confident of owners' support

Mark Hughes expects to be given time to turn Stoke's fortunes around.

The Welshman is the favourite to be the next Premier League manager shown the door, with the Potters having accumulated their lowest tally of points after 17 games since promotion in 2008.

The squad were confronted by angry fans at Stoke railway station following last weekend's 5-1 loss to Tottenham and Tuesday's last-gasp defeat to Burnley, although a much-improved performance, left them only two points above the bottom three.

Saturday's home clash with second-bottom West Ham has been billed as a potentially crucial match for Hughes' job prospects.

But the 54-year-old, who has been in charge since 2013, remains confident he has the full backing of chairman Peter Coates.

Hughes speaks to either Coates or chief executive Tony Scholes almost every day and the current travails will not stop them all celebrating together at Thursday's staff Christmas dinner.

Asked if club chiefs were offering the support Hughes wants, he said defensively: "Why wouldn't they? They're good football people, they've been around football a long time and they understand what it's about.

"They know they've got good people working for them and one of their constants is that they allow people who can get the job done to get on with their job and do the job that they're paid to do. And that's what they're doing with me.

"The owners are fans, they're the biggest fans if you judge by what they've done for the club. If they see a committed performance, if they see players working hard and running as much as they possibly can, which is what they saw on Tuesday night, they'll be happy.

"Because they know, if you work that hard over a period, you will get results. They've been in the game a long time, they know it's not always a smooth path.''

It was claimed this week that Hughes was offered the Crystal Palace job in the summer but turned it down to stay at Stoke.

He denied the story, saying: "I'm not aware of that. Why would I leave Stoke City, it doesn't make sense. I've got fantastic support from the chairman and the [Coates] family and I enjoy working here.

"I enjoy working with the group of players I've got. They're a committed group and an honest group that are working exceptionally hard to turn things around.

"We're not the only team that have had trials and tribulations this season. We're just one of seven or eight possibly that are not quite where they want to be, but we've got the means to do something about that because we've got good players.''

Saturday's clash will be given extra heat by the return of Marko Arnautovic, whose transfer to West Ham in the summer went down very badly in the Potteries.

The winger signed a four-year deal at Stoke in 2016 but left one year in, saying it was an easy decision.

"I don't think he'll get a good reception,'' said Hughes. "There's no bad feelings from my point of view. I would imagine maybe the circumstances of the transfer will be fresh in people's minds but he did great here.

"He's a good guy, good player, seems to be coming into a little bit of form for West Ham, which is a little bit of a worry because we know what he can produce. But hopefully he won't have an influential game.''

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