Ryan Shawcross confident of improvement


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Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross says the whole squad remain confident of pulling themselves away from relegation trouble and they’re already targeting three points away at Watford on Saturday.

Stoke have endured a disappointing start to their Premier League campaign and Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Bournemouth has left the club in the bottom three.

The Potters have lost four of their last five league matches and there is real pressure on manager Mark Hughes, whose side were thumped 7-2 by Manchester City prior to the loss against the Cherries.

Shawcross was reinstalled into the starting line-up for the game at the weekend but, after Andrew Surman’s crisp strike put the visitors ahead, the skipper gave away a penalty after a clumsy challenge in the box.

Junior Stanislas converted the spot-kick and, despite Mame Biram Diouf pulling one back for the hosts, Eddie Howe’s side were able to clinch a much-needed three points to aid their survival hopes.

Reports are suggesting another defeat could spell the end of the road for Hughes at the Stoke Stadium but Shawcross insists there is a long way to go and a win at Vicarage Road on Saturday would help massively.

He said: “If we can get a win next week then everything is a lot brighter, but it is 38 games this league, it’s not nine, it’s not 10, it’s where you finish at the end of the season, and that’s all our target is.”

Watford are 2.10 favourites to bounce back from the 4-2 defeat to Chelsea last time out, while a draw is priced at 3.50 – the same odds as a Stoke triumph.

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