MARK HUGHES saluted hat-trick hero Kenwyne Jones after he blasted Stoke City into the third round of the Capital One Cup.
Jones’ treble floored Walsall at the Britannia Stadium and set up a trip to Tranmere in the next round of the competition.
The inclusion of the Trinidad & Tobago international was one of eight changes Hughes made to his starting line-up … and the City boss was understandably delighted with his contribution.
“I’m really pleased for Kenwyne because he worked really hard in pre-season and up to now hasn’t had that many opportunities,” he told stokecityfc.com.
“He acquitted himself really well, put himself about and showed the energy and power that he has.
“He’s a great guy and we want him to be successful here. He’s got all the attributes but for whatever reason it hasn’t possibly quite happened here as he would have liked.
“He’s got an opportunity; we’re playing in a slightly different way now and I think that will suit him.”
Hughes also praised the debut display of Oussama Assaidi, who had a 45-minute run-out as a substitute a day after joining the Potters on a season-long loan from Liverpool.
“I thought he did really well, especially when you consider he hasn’t even trained with the lads yet,” he revealed. “He’s an exciting player and I think the crowd have already warmed to him.”
The defeat for Walsall represented only their fourth of the calendar year and Hughes conceded: “It was a difficult game on occasions because Walsall got the ball down, passed and moved and had good energy in forward areas.
“But I always thought we were in control of the game and Kenwyne’s third goal really took the game away from them.”