Everton vs Norwich City: Mark Hughes 'extremely happy' at Stoke

Posted Sunday, May 15, 2016 by PA

Stoke manager Mark Hughes has ruled himself out of the running to succeed Roberto Martinez at Everton, stressing he is "extremely happy" in his current job.

Martinez was sacked by the Toffees on Thursday and Hughes, who had a brief playing spell with them in 2000, is among the names to have been linked with the post, along with the likes of Southampton's Ronald Koeman and ex-Ajax boss Frank de Boer.

When that was put to Hughes, the Welshman said: "I'm one of the more experienced Premier League managers so we shouldn't be surprised by it really.

"You are almost never first choice in these lists, though - there is a list of foreign managers usually ahead of anybody else when a vacancy comes along.

"But I have to say I'm extremely happy (at Stoke).

"I have a fantastic club to work for with great people, and we still have things to do, so I'm looking forward to next season here."

Hughes, whose side can still claim ninth spot in the Barclays Premier League this term to match their final position for the last two seasons under him, was speaking ahead of Sunday's campaign-concluding home clash with West Ham.

Stoke suffered a blow in the build-up to the fixture earlier this week when it emerged that midfielder Stephen Ireland had broken his leg in training.

Hughes on Friday said it was a double fracture that he expects will keep the 29-year-old, whose current contract runs to the summer of 2017, out for eight or nine months.

"It is a bad injury unfortunately - a double fracture," Hughes said.

"They are very rare and unfortunately Stephen is going to be out for a significant amount of time, probably eight to nine months.

"But the surgeon was very happy with the result of the operation he has had.

"He has had a pin in it and by all accounts it went as well as it could have done, so that is a positive and on that basis, Stephen will play for Stoke again."

The Potters also have Ibrahim Afellay, Marc Wilson (both knee) and Jack Butland (ankle) unavailable for Sunday's game.

The contest could see Glen Johnson and Shay Given back involved after spells out with knee and groin problems respectively.

Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic says in-form West Ham winger Michail Antonio should be considered for an England call-up.

The 26-year-old has enjoyed a fine debut season in the Barclays Premier League after arriving at Upton Park from Nottingham Forest last summer.

Antonio has been filling in at right-back during the latter stages of the campaign but still managed to score his 12th goal in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Manchester United.

And with Danny Welbeck ruled out of Euro 2016 through injury, Bilic feels England manager Roy Hodgson could do worse than check out the Hammers wideman.

"He's quality, the way he is playing, the big impact that he's had on our game and also on the Premier League," said the West Ham boss.

"I'm saying as his club manager he's scored some goals, he's made some assists, he's defending really well.

"Of course Roy Hodgson has got a good team, he's not struggling for names. England qualified with 10 out of 10 wins so it's very hard for some players to break in - somebody has got to get injured or somebody has to lose a place in his club long term.

"But if you ask me does he have enough to offer? Yeah, definitely. He's a player who when he's one against one, he's got pace, he's got strength, he's got the quality of going up and down, he's dangerous on goal. He's a great player for us.

"So does he have potential? Definitely."

Antonio's form has helped take West Ham to the verge of qualifying for the Europa League. A win at Stoke will guarantee sixth place while fifth is also a possibility.

Bilic inherited a side who reached Europe via the fair play table last term but used a mixture of fringe players and youngsters as the Hammers bowed out in the group stages.

However, he insists this time around they intend to have a real crack at the competition.

"When it's there, you want to do it," Bilic added. "In England, in the media it's always 'is it good to qualify because you have a dip because you're not used to playing three games a week', and that's a minus.

"But it doesn't matter, we really want to qualify and so we're going to do everything we can.

"Last summer was too early, me and my staff were new and we didn't have enough players.

"We didn't want to go out, we wanted to qualify, but without damaging or harming the Premier League. If we qualify (this year) it's totally different to last year."

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