Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross has insisted the players are still firmly behind Mark Hughes, despite a dismal run of results that has left the club just two points clear of the relegation zone.

The Welshman has guided the Potters to three consecutive ninth place finishes in his four seasons at the club, but a series of four defeats in the last five games has left them with just 16 points from 17 games, marking their worst ever start to a Premier League season.

Hughes' style of football has been subject of intense criticism from the fans, who saw their side losing 1-0 away to Burnley on Tuesday (12 December), just days after Stoke were thrashed 5-1 by Tottenham at Wembley.

Despite the scrutiny, however, Shawcross believes the dressing room remains behind the manager.

"That's the game we're in and the manager knows it," the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

"He knows we need results. If we stick together as we have done over the years then it helps a lot.

"We know he's a quality manager, we believe in him. Unfortunately we are going through a bad period at the moment but, as we've shown over the five years he's been here, I think he's been one of the most successful managers we've ever had as a club."

Following the defeat to Spurs, Stoke players were confronted by angry supporters as they waited for the train, while fans who travelled to Turf Moor on Tuesday serenaded Hughes with chants of "you don't know what you're doing".

Shawcross admitted the criticism was entirely deserved but suggested the performance against Burnley showed signs of improvement.

"Obviously we got a bit of stick after the Spurs game, which was fully deserved," he added. "I thought we put on a half-decent performance in response to that and we were unlucky not to come away with a point at least. We're really disappointed.

"It's the way it's going at the moment. Unlike at Spurs, I thought we worked really hard and unfortunately it was just that little bit of quality didn't get us a goal and then in the last minute they pinched the winner.

The Potters face two crucial games between now and Christmas, as they host fellow strugglers West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion over the next two weekends. Both teams are two points behind Stoke but the former are growing in confidence after beating Chelsea and drawing against Arsenal, while the latter picked up a valuable draw at Anfield on Wednesday.