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Hughes favoured for Stoke

Mark Hughes has emerged as Sky Bet's new favourite to be the next Stoke manager following a run of bets on Wednesday.

Last Updated: 23/05/13 at 13:06 Post Comment

Mark Hughes: Favourite to replace Tony Pulis at the Britannia Stadium

Mark Hughes: Favourite to replace Tony Pulis at the Britannia Stadium

Roberto Di Matteo was installed at the head of the market after it was confirmed that Tony Pulis' seven-year reign was coming to an end, but the Italian has since drifted out from 3/1 to 5/1.

Fellow former Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez was backed in from 16/1 to as short as 2/1 on Tuesday afternoon but has since gone back out to 8/1, with Hughes now attracting the majority of interest.

The Welshman has been out of work since being sacked by QPR in November and is now 2/1 to return to management by taking the reins at the Britannia Stadium.

Gus Poyet (7/1), Roberto Martinez (12/1), Martin O'Neill (16/1), Steve Bruce (16/1) and Phil Neville (18/1) are also considered in what remains a wide-open market.

Sky Bet Football Trader Chris Spicer said: "Our punters are pretty divided as to who will replace Pulis with no odds-on favourite established yet, but Hughes is currently attracting the majority of the stakes.

"He will surely be itching to get back into management and prove a point given the nature of his exit from QPR, while it remains to be seen as to whether Benitez and Di Matteo would really be interested in the post."

Fellow Welshman Pulis guided Stoke into the Premier League during his second spell at the helm and later led them to an FA Cup final and into Europe.

But the Potters were dragged into relegation trouble last season and Pulis drew criticism from some sections of the Britannia Stadium support over his side's style of play.

A brief club statement read: "Stoke City and Tony Pulis confirm that they have mutually agreed that Tony will leave the Club with immediate effect."

Earlier, Stoke winger Matt Etherington had warned fans to be careful what they wish for as news of the manager's imminent departure began to circulate.

"I've spoken to a few of the other boys and they're shocked as well, it's hit us," he told Talksport.

"Fans were grumbling saying they wanted him out or wanted a change but it looks like they have got their wish.

"You have to be careful what you wish for in football sometimes. You look at Charlton under Alan Curbishley and look where they are now.

"Hopefully it won't go that way for us, hopefully we'll get someone in who will push us on and make us into a top-10 team.

"If you look at where Stoke were when he first came in - mid-table in the Championship - you can't argue he's done a fantastic job."

Pulis first took the Potters job in 2002 and returned in 2006 after a stint at Plymouth Argyle, overseeing promotion to the top flight two years later.

Behind Arsene Wenger, he was the second-longest serving manager in the country following Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and David Moyes's subsequent move to Old Trafford from Everton.

Now Etherington hopes Stoke bring in the correct candidate to replace Pulis.

"We will wait and see who the club decide to bring in," he said.

"The chairman is a very sensible man, very level-headed and knows his football and he will definitely bring in the right person for Stoke."

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