SINGAPORE, July 14 (Reuters) - Stoke City are confident they have plenty of depth to cope with the departure of first choice goalkeeper Asmir Begovic after the Bosnian international left the club after five years to join Premier League champions Chelsea.
“We wish Asmir well, he’s moved on to the next chapter of his career after doing great things at Stoke. We are pleased he was here for the time he was and part of a successful period for the club,” manager Mark Hughes told reporters in Singapore on Tuesday.
“He’s moved on now and we will also move on very quickly. We’ve obviously brought Shay Given in and we have a handy young keeper in Jack Butland at the club and Jakob (Haugaard) has joined us as well,” the Welshman added as Stoke prepare for this week’s Premier League Asia Trophy tournament along with Arsenal and Everton.
“So in terms of our goalkeeping department, I think we are strong and we are looking to give all the guys a chance to grab the number one shirt for Stoke City.”
Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross admitted he was close to Begovic and is happy his friend has a chance to test himself at the highest level.
“I know Asmir well and he made it pretty clear to me for a while that he wanted to go,” Shawcross said.
“I am happy for him to get such a big move after he has been brilliant for us but as the gaffer said, we have plenty of good goalkeepers to replace him and I wish him luck at Chelsea but I am sure he will be fine.”
Hughes was also keen to point out that Begovic does not possess the type of character to be content to sit on the bench in west London, insisting the Bosnian would back himself to be able to usurp Belgian international Thibaut Courtois at Chelsea.
“The assumption is he has gone to Chelsea to sit on the bench, but knowing Asmir as I do he will back his ability against anybody,” Hughes added.
”Obviously, he is up against an outstanding keeper in Courtois so will clearly be starting as a number two there but he is very confident and experienced and has gone there because he thinks he can develop and improve.
“He has gone there as he feels there is a challenge and an opportunity, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he is able to put pressure on the number one position. That’s probably what Chelsea want.” (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)