Asmir Begovic has big things looming on the horizon but the goalkeeper is handling the subject of his future with the composure that has characterised his career in English football. In six months' time he will be preparing for Bosnia's first appearance at a World Cup finals and foresees himself still being at Stoke despite interest from the higher echelons of the Premier League.
"I don't pay much attention to it," said the goalkeeper, who shrugged off a thigh injury to make his 54th consecutive top-flight appearance in the stalemate with Hull. "I take it as a huge compliment if people are saying nice things but there's a pressure to keep performing so I have to concentrate on my job each and every day. Everyone wants to play at the highest level as possible. I'm no different. That's right through the club. Everyone is pretty ambitious, the chairman, the players, and I think we can all achieve great things here in the future."
Manchester City and Arsenal are among the clubs to have been linked with the 26-year-old, who will get the opportunity to enhance his reputation in Brazil. "I'm very much looking forward to the World Cup but let's see what happens," he said. "I've got two and a half years left, I'm pretty tied down, pretty settled, so there's no situation there."
However, Stoke may consider the chance to quadruple the return on their £3.25m outlay to Portsmouth in February 2010 as sound business. For now, his displays are proving integral to Stoke's autumn revival.
Three fine stops at the KC Stadium – turning efforts from Ahmed Elmohamady (twice) and Yannick Sagbo round the goalframe – were a feature of his sixth clean sheet of the season. Stoke have lost only twice in nine league games and their transition from the directness of the Tony Pulis era to a more measured passing game was to the fore as they pressed for a late winner.
Yet for all their attractive buildup, their best chances came from the aerial route: Stephen Ireland's goal after Peter Crouch saw a header brilliantly saved ruled out for offside and Ryan Shawcross smacking the woodwork after rising highest through a crowd.
"I'm not going to go away too much from what has brought success in the past because it would be crazy to do so," said the manager Mark Hughes. "Long term, the way we want to play will allow us to progress and become a top-10 team because that's our intention. In the short term I've been at the club, I've been really pleased with the players. They could very easily have felt that the type of football we're asking them to play was beyond them but I think they were ready for a change and they've embraced it."
The result moved Hull six points clear of the relegation zone. Their miserly home record of only three goals conceded in eight has been key and the Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor ran Begovic close for the man-of-the-match honours. "He's very much part of why we've had the clean sheets we've had," said the first-team coach Steve Agnew. "He gives the defenders in front of him confidence."
Man of the match Asmir Begovic (Stoke)