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MARK HUGHES has stressed the importance of 24/7 contact with his Stoke City squad when he gets to work with them at the start of their pre-season build-up this week.

City's new manager will whisk them away to a five-day training camp in France midway through the first week of pre-season preparations after the players have reported back.

While there will be great emphasis on fitness work on that trip, Hughes also knows that it will be a crucial few days for both himself and his newly-assembled backroom team.

"It's a crucial time for a new manager and his staff," said City's boss. "Having that 24/7 contact on the trip means that we can quickly get an understanding of each other.

"That will be just as important for the players in getting to know the way that we like to work. So we will all benefit from this chance to get away for a few days at this stage.

"Had we stayed at Clayton Wood, the players would have been in for a couple of hours each day, so you don't have the same level of contact to establish that understanding."

He added: "I have had the chance to meet a number of the players individually when they have been into the training ground, but now we start working with them as a group."

Hughes is delighted with the acquisitions he has made to his squad so far, re-signing winger Jermaine Pennant and snapping up defenders Erik Pieters and Marc Muniesa.

While there is much speculation about further additions to the squad, he has reiterated his belief that there won't be wholesale changes before the start of the season.

"The important thing now is for us to have a good look at what we have in the building and work with the players before deciding on the next moves," said City's manager.

"We have a strong squad, a stable squad and that gives us a good base to work with. If I feel there are other areas that need strengthening, then we will try to do that."





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