• Stoke are currently 10th in the Premier League, just two points off 5th place
  • Mark Hughes has achieved back-to-back ninth-placed finishes with Stoke
  • The Potters travel to face West Brom at the Hawthorns on Saturday 
  • Hughes has played down Stoke being busy in the January transfer window

Phil Medlicott, Press Association

Stoke boss Mark Hughes admits his side are currently ahead of target this term and is not dismissing talk of a push for the top four.

In a hugely unpredictable Barclays Premier League season that, at the halfway stage, sees Leicester level on points with leaders Arsenal and champions Chelsea only three above the relegation zone, the Potters are shaping up well.

Monday’s 4-3 victory at Everton was their third win in five league games – the others came against Manchester City and Manchester United – and they are finishing 2015 only two points off fifth place.

Stoke manager instructs his player Geoff Cameron (left) on the touchline at the Goodison Park

Stoke manager instructs his player Geoff Cameron (left) on the touchline at the Goodison Park

Stoke's Marko Arnautovic (left) celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Joselu in the win over Everton

Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic (left) celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Joselu in the win over Everton

Hughes, applauding the Stoke fans, hopes to build on back-to-back ninth-placed Premier League finishes 

Hughes, applauding the Stoke fans, hopes to build on back-to-back ninth-placed Premier League finishes 

Stoke winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who netted twice against Everton, has been quoted this week suggesting a challenge for a Champions League spot is not out of the question.

And when that was put to Hughes on Thursday at his press conference to preview Saturday’s trip to West Brom, he said: ‘Who knows in this season?

‘Whether this is a sign of things to come and a changing of the order, I’m not too sure.

‘But it is fantastic to see the likes of Leicester up there, and ourselves – we are trying to have a go.

‘Crystal Palace, West Ham, teams like that – we are in the top half, and we are there on merit.

‘All teams such as ourselves are going into games thinking we will back our ability against anybody and see how far it takes us.

The Welshman, animated on the touchline during the win over Manchester United, is aiming for a top four finish 

The Welshman, animated on the touchline during the win over Manchester United, is aiming for a top four finish 

‘Up to this point we have been really encouraged by what we have produced and we just have to keep it going.

‘We know we can beat anyone in this league, although there are a lot of teams who will say exactly the same.

‘So it is about having that consistency, and if we can get that, who knows where we can go?’

Hughes, whose two seasons at Stoke so far have seen him guide them to back-to-back ninth-placed finishes, added: ‘We had targets before the season, and we’re above where we thought we would be at this stage.

‘That is encouraging, and the second half of seasons have been strong for us, so we are looking forward to 2016.’

Meanwhile, Hughes has once again played down the prospect of Stoke being busy in the January transfer window.

‘I don’t think there is any urgency on our part to add really,’ he said.

‘We have had conversations about certain players that we like the look of and are asking about their circumstances and availability, but I think everyone does that leading into a window.

‘If the right player is available we’ll consider it, but if we need to wait, we will.’

Xherdan Shaqiri looped in this sumptuous first-time lob  as Stoke prevailed 4-3 at Goodison Park 

Xherdan Shaqiri looped in this sumptuous first-time lob  as Stoke prevailed 4-3 at Goodison Park 

Right back Glen Johnson (centre) was among the Stoke players to congratulate Shaqiri following his fine strike

Right back Glen Johnson (centre) was among the Stoke players to congratulate Shaqiri following his fine strike

Stoke manager Hughes (right) shakes Ibrahim Affelay's hand following his side's fine victory over  the Toffees

Stoke manager Hughes (right) shakes Ibrahim Affelay’s hand following his side’s fine victory over the Toffees

The comments below have not been moderated.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

Who is this week’s top commenter?
Find out now