Stoke City boss Mark Hughes has rejected Manchester United manager David Moyes’ claims that Adnan Januzaj needs more protection from referees, suggesting the youngster is playing for free kicks.
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Moyes said after his side’s 3-0 victory over Aston Villa at the weekend that, every week, opponents “are queuing up to see who can kick [Januzaj] next” and that “it’s for the referees to sort out.”
However, ahead of Stoke’s Capital One Cup quarterfinal with United at the Britannia Stadium on Wednesday, Hughes has raised questions over Moyes’ comments and said he felt the 18-year-old won too many free kicks when the Potters played at Old Trafford in the Premier League earlier this season.
“Managers always protect their players,” Hughes, who spent the majority of his playing career at Old Trafford, said. “Januzaj is a big talent and I’m sure he will be a big talent for many years to come. Sometimes you have to let kids stand on their own two feet and get on with it.
“We don’t talk like that, but it can happen. Januzaj seems to garner a number of fouls and get a lot of decisions. In our game he got five free kicks in a very short space of time and at the time I didn’t think they were fouls, so maybe that’s a side of his game that needs to be looked at as well.”
Hughes said he hopes Januzaj can learn from his former United and Wales teammate Ryan Giggs.
“I’d imagine Ryan will be mentoring Januzaj now,” he said. “Ryan was playing in the Lancashire A and B leagues and had to go to [non-league side] Marine away -- when you’re a 14-year-old kid and have to go up against men you have to deal with that early and learn very quickly how to jump out of tackles.
“He understands his body and does everything in his power to enable him to play at the highest level. Ryan had a lot of attention but he dealt with it really well, especially the tag of ‘new George Best.’”
Hughes said he intends to field a near full-strength side against United, with only back-up goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen set to come in for Asmir Begovic.
He added: “We’ll go strong. I’ve gone strong in the early rounds, so why would I change it for the quarterfinal?”