Stoke manager Mark Hughes concedes his team will feel Mame Biram Diouf’s absence when he departs for the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
The tournament kicks off on January 17 in Equatorial Guinea and, with Demba Ba surprisingly left out of the Senegal squad, Diouf is expected to be a key feature of the team’s attack.
Diouf scored both goals in Sunday’s 2-0 win over West Brom at the Britannia Stadium, helping Hughes secure back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time this season.
Former Hannover man Diouf could potentially be away for almost a month depending on how Senegal fare in the tournament, but Hughes is holding out hope that the Lions of Teranga flop, resulting in an early return for his in-form forward.
“[I am] a little bit [frustrated],” the Welshman said. “Because obviously he scored two today and strikers can be a bit streaky.
“Once they get a goal they invariably get them in the next two or three games. Hopefully that will be the case while he is still with us.
“We are going to miss him, but hopefully they’ll get knocked very quickly so he won’t miss many games.
Diouf started the game in a wider position as Peter Crouch led the line for Stoke, but Hughes eventually moved him into a central role at the break and the manager’s tweaking certainly paid dividends in the form of two second-half goals.
Hughes added: “In fairness, we know that his best position is through the middle, running on to things and I have played in wider positions – he does a good job for us and works really hard for the team.
“But his best position is in the middle and when I made the change I felt it was important that we got him in those areas and in behind their defence, which we hadn’t done enough. That helped our play.
“He’s delighted with that [scoring twice] – it’s important for striker’s to score ugly goals too.”

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