STOKE CITY manager Mark Hughes has praised the professionalism of Jon Walters as he stands on the cusp of a major milestone.
Hughes could hand the Republic of Ireland international his 100th consecutive Premier League start in tomorrow’s clash with Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
Walters has been hampered this week by a thigh problem but hopes to get the green light to be available for selection for the game in south Wales and Hughes has nothing but praise for the 30-year-old forward.
He told www.stokecityfc.com: “It’s remarkable that he has been able to keep as fit as he has done and keep his performance levels so high that he has been chosen week in, week out.
“Credit to him – not too many players are capable of doing that but the way Jon approaches his job on a daily basis is spot-on.
“You don’t get to 99 consecutive starts at any level of the game, let alone the Premier League, by not being whole-hearted and by dipping in and out of training.
“Football is like any walk of life in so much that you get out of it what you put in … and that’s exactly what Jon has done.”
Hughes will check on the fitness of Walters, Robert Huth (ankle), Erik Pieters (back) and Glenn Whelan (hamstring) before finalising his plans for the clash with the Swans.
The Potters will be looking for their first win in seven top flight outings tomorrow but Hughes will make the trip to his native country in an optimistic frame of mind.
He added: “If you look at the seven games, we’ve played Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester and last week Southampton who are in the top six at the moment. That’s a run of games that any side would have difficulty with.
“I know I keep on saying it but the only really disappointing performance from our point of view was the Norwich game when we didn’t really get out of the blocks.
“We played really well against Fulham away but came away with nothing and played exceptionally well at Old Trafford and came away with nothing, both of which were extremely disappointing results.
“I think that gives us confidence going into the game at Swansea because our away form, in terms of performances, has been good, albeit we haven’t picked up any points.”
Swansea were in Europa League action against Kuban Krasnodar on Thursday but Hughes does not believe their long trip to Russia will have any bearing on tomorrow’s encounter.
“I’ve been in that situation and it can be a problem when you’ve had a long trip and then immediately face another away game in the Premier League but that’s not the case for Swansea this weekend,” he conceded.
“I don’t think the impact of going to Russia and back ahead of a home game will tax them too much, if I’m honest.
“They’ve got quite a big squad now and they use that well. A number of players who have been key for them in the Premier League didn’t play on Thursday and I’m sure they will be fresh enough.
“But it’s more about what we do instead of concentrating on what effect their trip will have on their performance.”