Stoke City and Mark Hughes have issued a ‘hands off’ warning as interest continues to circulate around their tall striker, Peter Crouch, according to reports in the English press. The one-time England international is being targeted by West Ham as the Irons try to replace the injured Andy Carroll.
Hughes has been quick to address the situation, however, and has been quick to confirm that Crouch is not for sale. ‘Crouchie has been linked with moves since I have come to the club,’ said the former Manchester United player, ‘I take it all with a pinch of salt.’
The manager was keen to point out the need for strength in depth within a Premier League club, and to clarify that Crouch has an important part to play in the Potters’ set-up. ‘Peter was great for me last year and he is a player we want to keep,’ said Hughes, ‘It’s a long tough season and you need good quality players over the place.’
There might have been an element of doubt over Crouch’s Stoke City future, as the Britannia Stadium has already welcomed Mame Biram Diouf and Bojan into its attacking ranks this summer. For Hughes, however, Crouch still provides a unique option within the Stoke frontline, and he is still a valuable player. There has been an emphasis at the club recently to employ a more exciting brand of football, but Hughes is not prepared to ditch route-one attacking play entirely.