Mark Hughes is confident Stoke will not be drawn into a Premier League relegation battle this season.
The Potters temporarily slid into the bottom three last weekend after a home defeat to fellow strugglers Bournemouth.
Everton’s heavy loss to Arsenal the following day saw them slip into the drop zone and take Stoke’s place, but Hughes’ side head to Watford on Saturday knowing only goal difference is keeping them out of the the bottom three.
Stoke’s lowest finish since they entered the top flight nine years ago was 14th in 2011-12 and Hughes does not envisage a fight for survival this time around.
Speaking on Friday morning, he said:
“I’d be more concerned if I felt we didn’t have the potential in the group to have a good finish to the season – that’s our intention.
“We were 13th last year, we fully anticipate that we’ll be better than that this year. At the moment, we’re just above the positions that no one wants to be in but we don’t anticipate that’s going to last very long.
“Experience is invaluable. Not only from myself and my coaching group but the players as well within the group.
“A lot of the players have experienced weeks where we’ve under-performed and they understand that you need to do certain things well to get out of those situations, that’s what we’re working on.
“From our point of view, it’s not about that pressure from the outside, it’s what we put on ourselves. We’ve got high standards here, we expect to perform well every game we play.”