December 29, 2017 / 5:37 AM / 4 months ago

Stoke boss Hughes backs Jese to succeed in Premier League

(Reuters) - Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has backed Spain forward Jese Rodriguez to be a success at the Midlands club after coming through a tough period in which he was forced to return home to deal with his infant son’s health problems.

FILE PHOTO - Real Madrid's Jese Rodriguez celebrates his goal during their Spanish First Division soccer match against Levante at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, October 17, 2015. REUTERS/Juan Medina Picture Supplied by Action Images

Jese arrived in the close season on loan from French side Paris St Germain and struck against Arsenal on debut but has not added to his nine league appearances since the 3-0 defeat by Liverpool in November.

The former Real Madrid player was disciplined by the club after leaving the substitute’s bench before the end of the 2-1 win over Swansea City earlier this month and has not been available for the next five games.

Asked if the frustration of limited game time would force Jese to cut his loan deal short, Hughes replied: “No, he wants to be a success here.

“Clearly the Premier League is where he wants to be, with us. It’s just unfortunate because of his family circumstances that he hasn’t been able to fully commit to what he’s needed to do here to be effective for us.

FILE PHOTO - Soccer Football - Premier League - Huddersfield Town vs Stoke City - John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, Britain - December 26, 2017 Stoke City manager Mark Hughes applauds fans after the match Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

“You have to understand it’s something that couldn’t have been avoided. It seems like his family situation is settling down so he might be able to refocus now for a decent length of time. Hopefully that’s the case.”

Stoke are 13th in the table with 20 points and travel to Stamford Bridge to face champions Chelsea on Saturday but Jese is unlikely to feature after returning to England last week.

“We’re not quite sure how much work he’s been able to do,” Hughes said.

“He’s not quite where he needs to be to be able to be a factor for us. He might get back to the level he needs to be at very soon, hopefully.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru

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