Mark Hughes has praised the strength of his Stoke City squad following their 2-0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the Capital One Cup Quarter-Finals.Hughes rang the changes after the Potters lost to Sunderland in the Premier League last week, and they seemingly came off as Stoke progressed to the Semi-Finals for the first time since winning the competition in 1972.
The Welshman said the game was a good chance to explore his options and to reward some of his players with an opportunity in the starting line-up.
“I made the changes tonight not to disrespect the opposition but to give one or two of the lads who have done well for us an opportunity,” Hughes told stokecityfc.co.uk.
“Given the run we have been on and the amount of matches we have played I thought that the game presented me with an opportunity to freshen things up a little bit.
“We have a crucial period coming up with plenty of games over the Christmas and New Year period and it is vital not to burn anybody out at this time of the season.
“The players we brought in are all top players and they have proven themselves domestically and internationally too. It shows the strength of the group that we can make the amount of changes that we did and still be able to comfortably win a game against strong opposition.”
Read more: Capital One Cup Quarter-Final review
Hughes singled out Ibrahim Afellay for praise, after the Dutchman broke the deadlock for the Potters on the half-hour mark.
“I thought he was outstanding tonight, and in my opinion produced his best display of the season for us. He is clearly a really talented individual and you could see that given his performance, and the way that he took his goal this evening.”
You can find out who Stoke City face in the last four of the Capital One Cup on Wednesday evening, after the conclusion of Southampton versus Liverpool.
Follow coverage of that game and the draw as it's made via our competition Twitter account - CapitalOne_Cup.