MARK Hughes says Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones are going head-to-head for the honour of leading Stoke City's attack at West Ham tomorrow (3pm).
The Stoke boss admits Jones has catapulted himself into genuine contention on the back of Wednesday's hat-trick against Walsall.
He also denies there is any intention to ship Jones out of the club to generate money for other signings ahead of Monday's 11pm transfer deadline.
"He did well and was able to add goals to a good performance," said Hughes of Jones' efforts in the 3-1 League Cup success over League One Walsall.
"There was some talk that some offers had come in for him, but not to my knowledge.
"He's doing okay and he's enjoying the work we are doing on a day-to-day basis.
"I was able to give him a chance and he's made a claim for a place in the team. When you score three goals, there's not a lot more you can do.
"But I've got a number of strikers who've made a claim for the team. Peter Crouch comes back into my thinking. He was unwell on Tuesday and that's why he didn't take part.
"Cameron Jerome is obviously itching to play a part and I haven't been able to give him as much gametime either."
One player looking increasingly unlikely to join that stable of strikers is Werder Bre men's German international Aaron Hunt.
Hughes appears to have gone cold on a player who was already taking some persuading that Stoke was a good option for him anyway.
But there has been a debut this week for on-loan Oussama Assaidi, and Hughes hasn't ruled out a start for the Liverpool winger tomorrow after seeing him play the second 45 minutes against Walsall.
"He's got good ability to take people on," said Hughes, "and he's got pace as well. He had a little cameo and he hadn't even had a training session prior to that , but I felt it was important he put the shirt on.
"I think people were excited by what he showed them by virtue of his enthusiasm and his ability."
Assaidi's signing brought some relief to Hughes after what he admits has been a frustrating transfer window after seeing several players slip through the net.
He denied it was because Stoke were negotiating with a lot of foreign clubs, but warned his dealings could go down to the wire.
Recalling his latest-ever transfer on deadline day, Hughes said: "At Blackburn we got David Bentley on loan from Arsenal five minutes before the deadline. We felt he would flourish, and he did. He eventually went for about £17m."