Stoke City news

Twin targets for Huth

August 15, 2011

Stoke defender Robert Huth is targeting a first top ten finish in the Premier League and a good run in Europe this season.

Matthew Etherington and Robert Huth
PA PhotosRobert Huth has high hopes for Stoke this season

• Stoke blog: First point on the board

The Potters secured their first point of the new campaign in a goalless draw at home to Chelsea on Sunday. That is already an improvement on last term, when Stoke lost their first three matches and were bottom of the table heading into September.

They recovered to end up 13th, their lowest league finish in the three seasons since promotion having come 12th and 11th. However, just three points separated Tony Pulis' side from eighth-placed Fulham and Huth would like the club to take the next step and break into the top 10.

That may be a tougher task this season if Stoke make the group stages of the Europa League - they play the first of a two-legged play-off against FC Thun in Switzerland on Thursday - but Huth remains optimistic.

"To get safe is the main priority but, depending on if we qualify for Europe, we'd like to go as far as we can,'' Huth said. "It would be outstanding to get into the group stages of the Europa League.

"It is not something anyone else at the club has done and hopefully if we do qualify it won't affect us in the league. Hopefully we can get a top ten finish if we can continue the sort of form we have been showing recently.''

Pulis has only managed to bolster the defensive ranks of his squad so far this summer, bringing in Jonathan Woodgate and Matthew Upson after they were released by Tottenham and West Ham respectively.

Woodgate made his league debut against Chelsea, meaning Huth was pushed out to right-back which is not his favoured position.

But reinforcements are required further up the field with Stoke heavily reliant on the creativity of wingers Matt Etherington - currently awaiting results of a scan on a shoulder injury sustained yesterday - and Jermaine Pennant.

Pulis would also like to bring in another forward and the club have been trying to sign Spurs' England international Peter Crouch. Huth said the lack of options was noticeable against Chelsea when enforced changes had to be made.

"We played well for 70 minutes but then Rory Delap and Matt Etherington came off and so we had to dig deep the last few minutes,'' he said. "They (Chelsea) have good players but we are so tight defensively even if someone goes past you there is always someone else there.

"I thought everyone in the defence did their job against tricky wide men but all over the pitch we competed and made it really hard for them, it would be difficult to single anyone out.

"It is early doors but hopefully we can get one or two players in to make a difference. For example, if we'd had another winger to come on after 70 minutes it would have been a bit more interesting. Once Matty came off it took the edge off a bit. Hopefully we can get one or two players in and we can attack after that.''