Hughes Eyes Youth

Mark Hughes & Damian Roden

MARK HUGHES says he may have to call upon youth at Stamford Bridge as the Potters travel to take on champions Chelsea on Saturday.

The Potters make the trip to the capital depleted of experienced defenders with up to five of the Welshman’s defensive options unavailable to him.

Skipper Ryan Shawcross, Bruno Martins Indi, Kurt Zouma and former Blue Glen Johnson have all been ruled out of the fixture whilst a question mark still hangs over Dutch international Erik Pieters.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning, Hughes said: “It is quite a big crisis for us to be perfectly honest.

“It is fair to say that we are missing quite a few - we have long term issues with Bruno Martins Indi, who is still a few weeks away, Ryan is missing for two more weeks as well and obviously Kurt can’t play against his parent club.

“We also have Glen Johnson missing and whilst Erik Pieters has an outside chance, the game may well come a little too early for him, especially with the game on Monday too."

“We are in a really difficult position it is fair to say, and we may be forced into calling upon a couple of our younger players, who will have to come in and do a job for us.”

He added: “It is going to be a big ask, because even with our best XI this would be incredibly tough, but we will still go down there, be positive and give it a real good go.”

Tickets for the New Year’s Day home game against Newcastle United are available – visit the bet365 Stadium Ticket Office, or call on (01782) 367599.