London - Stoke City players should start taking more risks to end their four-game winless streak in the Premier League, manager Mark Hughes said after Saturday's 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Everton.
Stoke have failed to score in any of their matches during the losing streak and have conceded nine goals in the process.
Hughes' men have gone from fighting for the European spots in the league in seventh place, just four points off fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, to 11th in the table with just 13 games left.
"We were a little bit reluctant to put balls into good areas and get people to make good balls out of, at times, poor balls. Maybe we have got to be a bit more risky in our play," Hughes told British media.
"We were too reliant on keeping possession, but sometimes you've got to attack the game and you've got to put balls into good areas with quality which, in recent weeks, we have been struggling to produce in wide areas."
Hughes said he felt his players would have earned a much needed breather as they get a week off after Saturday's league clash against relegation-threatened Bournemouth.
Hughes said their cramped fixture list of playing 10 games since the start of 2016 was also taking its toll on the players.
"We are a little bit weakened with injuries and the intensity of the games we've just been through, high-intensity games against top teams, might just take the edge out of you," the former Manchester City manager said.
"But we've got a free week, which we are thankful for, and we just need to get a bit of freshness back into the team, then we will be fine."