Peter Crouch lauds Stoke City improvement under Mark Hughes

SINGAPORE: Stoke City striker Peter Crouch believes the club are in a position to challenge for top honours in the Premier League after back-to-back ninth place finishes have seen them attract higher quality players in the transfer window.

The Potters are playing in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Singapore this week but have already welcomed six new players to their ranks, including England and Ireland internationals Glen Johnson and Shay Given.

Barcelona starlet Moha El Ouriachi also joined the club at the start of the week and the 34-year-old Crouch has become increasingly impressed with the squad manager Mark Hughes is assembling at the Britannia Stadium.

"We are now attracting top quality signings and top quality players," Crouch, who first played in the Premier League 13 years ago, told reporters in Singapore on Friday.

"I have just finished my fourth season at Stoke City and the difference in the calibre of players, the confidence and the size of the squad has improved no end.

"Each season it seems to improve and this one will be no different... we look forward to having another successful campaign."

Crouch has been keen to impart his knowledge of the club to the new recruits, realising that as Stoke have established themselves as a top-10 side in England more internationals will be keen to join.

"I spoke to Glen and obviously I know him well from England and I only had glowing things to say about the club," Crouch added.

"I have enjoyed my time here since I joined and I know that being able to bring in Glen from such a big club like Liverpool shows how far we have moved on now that he has chose Stoke City.

Hughes has taken a fair number of the squad's younger members to Singapore and Crouch is happy to play the role of mentor to help them feel comfortable with the senior set-up.

"I have a fair bit of experience in the Premier League and if I can pass that on as much as possible that can only be a good thing," he added. "Some of the young players we have don't look out of place at all.

"I know what it is like coming into the first team group for the first time, it can be difficult and you can be a bit nervous but the ones on this trip seem to have integrated well with the senior players and I try and pass on as much as I can."