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Hughes' Ambition

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MARK HUGHES believes booking a place in the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup could spark a turn-around in Stoke City's Premier League fortunes.

The Potters will be looking to shrug off the disappointment of Saturday's narrow defeat against Manchester United when they meet Championship outfit Birmingham at St. Andrews in this evening's fourth round tie.

Hughes' men are without a league win since August despite producing a string of fine performances, particularly away from home.

They twice took the lead against United but left Old Trafford empty-handed after conceding two goals in the space of 90 seconds in the closing stages of the game.

Hughes readily admits it's a frustrating time for him and his players but insists: "I've said before that if you have a good cup run it can help you with your league form. It's a good game for us at this moment in time.

" We've had to deal with the United defeat but we're fortunate we've got another game very quickly after that which gives us an opportunity to keep playing at a high level.

"Hopefully we'll get over the disappointment of Saturday once and for all by claiming a positive result.

"At the end of the day we're in a results-driven business and we want to get results on the board. The frustration from our point of view is that there have been a number of occasions during the season where we've played really well but haven't got what we deserved.

"Think back to the Manchester City game at home where we created numerous chances and could have won that game and Fulham away as well. That's one that grates on me because I thought we totally dominated but other things conspired against us.

"There's just a sense of frustration at the moment because I think we got to a point at Old Trafford at the weekend where we were 12 minutes away from gaining a deserved victory I felt we deserved.

"If we had seen the game out at 2-1 we would have been about 10th in the Premier League. There are fine margins at the moment but we know we're capable of going up against good teams and getting good performances and good results. We need to start doing that now."

Hughes has confirmed that second-choice goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen will face Birmingham but Robert Huth is a doubt with an ankle injury he picked up against United.

The manager has hinted he may make other changes to his starting line-up but knows Birmingham cannot be taken lightly after they knocked cup holders Swansea out in the previous round.

Hughes added: "First and foremost, our priority is to win the game and progress, as I usually do in this competition I'll go strong and try and do that.

"It's an important competition for us this season. We can go to the latter stages if we approach it right and there's no reason why we can't.

"It's a difficult fixture for us, there's no doubt about that, but I just feel at the moment that our away performances are very good and I think that will help us."

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