REUTERS - Manager Mark Hughes said he does not expect Saido Berahino to produce his best football for Stoke City until next season as the striker is still finding his feet at the Premier League club.
Berahino, who joined Stoke from West Bromwich Albion in January, has not scored a league goal in over a year and had seen his career stall at his former club due to off-field incidents.
The 23-year-old is yet to score in eight appearances for Stoke.
"(Berahino) hasn't played a lot of football this year and he's still getting up to speed. These games are invaluable and I feel we will see a marked difference next season," Hughes told reporters on Friday.
"It's always difficult coming in at half-term but he's integrated well into the squad and we want to get him up and running in terms of goals."
Giannelli Imbula, who joined the club for a record 18.3 million pounds ($22.72 million) from Porto in 2016, has made only two league appearances for Stoke this year and Hughes urged the midfielder to make the most of his game time.
"It's fair to say that (Imbula) has struggled this year in terms of having an impact on the first team," the Welshman said.
"He hasn't had as many games as he would have liked and I would have liked him to grab his opportunity to stay in the team. But he's got opportunities between now and the end of the season for more game time."
Stoke, who are 12th in the league, host third-placed Liverpool on Saturday.($1 = 0.8056 pounds)
Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar; Editing by Andrew Bolton