Stoke vs Southampton: Bojan Krkic does feature in Mark Hughes' plans despite disappointing performance in Cup exit to Saints

Bojan was given his first outing in nearly a month but failed to fire in the 3-2 defeat to Southampton

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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes insists Bojan Krkic has a big part to play for Stoke this season.

The signing of the former Barcelona forward in the summer attracted plenty of attention but he has quickly become a peripheral figure.

Bojan's appearance in the Capital One Cup fourth-round tie against Southampton on Wednesday night was his first for nearly a month, and just his third start.

The 24-year-old saw plenty of the ball in the 3-2 defeat but his end product was disappointing and he was substituted with 17 minutes remaining.

Potters boss Hughes said: "I thought he did okay, up to a point.


"It's clear when he's got time and space that he's technically a very clever player and one that will do really well for us.

"It's a little bit hard at the moment because the physicality, going up against good Premier League teams, is difficult and it's not what he's been used to.

"But he'll get used to it very quickly, I just need to give him game time, and that was the opportunity, just to get him back in the team and see how he did.

"In the end, 20 minutes to go, we needed to chase the game so I brought Peter (Crouch) on."

Marj Hughes says Bojan Krikic does feature in his plans at Stoke

Hughes dismissed suggestions Bojan - who has also played for Roma, AC Milan and Ajax - has been slow adjusting to English football, saying: "We all felt it would take him time.

"It invariably does when players come from different leagues and different styles of play. It's a long old season, as we all know, and he'll get better and he'll have an impact on us without a shadow of a doubt."

In a hectic finish to the game, it was Southampton who earned a quarter-final trip to Sheffield United with a 3-2 victory.

Graziano Pelle and Shane Long put them two up at half-time but Steven Nzonzi quickly got one back and extra-time looked on the cards when Mame Biram Diouf headed an equaliser in the 82nd minute.

However, Crouch picked up two yellow cards in the space of a minute and from the free-kick given for his foul on Steven Davis, Pelle pounced to net the winner.

That took the Italian to nine goals in his first season in English football and earned Saints a ninth win from 10 games.

Boss Ronald Koeman felt it was fully merited, saying: "In the first half we scored two great goals and were much the better team on the pitch.

"They showed more character after half-time, real fight, but we created three big chances for the third and didn't take them.

"They were physical and brought Crouch in, and it's difficult to defend. It's not the way I like to play but that's Stoke.

"Maybe after the red card for Crouch we were a little lucky but we deserved to win, we had more chances than Stoke.

"Even after the disappointment of going to 2-2, the feeling was positive on the bench. I had the possibility to change players and I was confident if it went to extra time."