Hughes relishes options up front as Stoke prepare for Middlesbrough

Britain Soccer Football - Tottenham Hotspur v Stoke City - Premier League - White Hart Lane - 26/2/17 Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino gestures during the match as Stoke City manager Mark Hughes looks on Action Images via Reuters / Peter Cziborra Livepic/Files

(Reuters) - Stoke City manager Mark Hughes appeared to be relishing his selection dilemma ahead of his 10th-placed team's clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday, after last weekend's 4-0 drubbing at Tottenham Hotspur.

Hughes was forced to leave on-loan forward Wilfried Bony out of the squad and put new arrival Saido Berahino on the bench against Tottenham, opting instead to start with striker Peter Crouch.

"He (Bony) was away (at the African Cup of Nations) for a while and during that time Peter Crouch came into that side and did really well. It's been difficult for Wilf to get back in," Hughes told reporters on Friday.

"We've bought Berahino in the meantime, so that's an extra striker on the books. So he's just going to have to be patient, as all players have to be."

Berahino, who moved from West Bromwich Albion in January, has not scored a league goal in over a year and saw his career stall at his former club due to a series of off-field incidents.

Welshman Hughes, however, has been impressed with the hard yards Berahino has put in on the training ground.

"He's (Berahino) doing extra work over and above the main group on sharpness and finishing. We've been really impressed with him, particularly in terms of his finishing," Hughes added.

"He's clearly very much in my thoughts. It's only going to be a matter of time before he scores goals for us."

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)