By Emma Sanders

Mark Hughes revealed he was “surprised” Liverpool sold Joe Allen in the summer.

Stoke’s manager also believes Allen will receive a “great reception” when he returns to Anfield on Boxing Day as his side take on Liverpool in the Premier League.

Allen was sold to Stoke for £13million in July, just weeks after helping to guide Wales to the European Championships semi-final in France.

“His time at Liverpool was a frustration for him… I have to say we were quite surprised that after the European Championships, Liverpool were still prepared to allow him to leave,” said Hughes, as reported by BBC Sport.

“There was a worry that maybe his performances in the Europeans may well have made Liverpool think again. They had other irons in the fire… They were happy to do the deal and we were happy to have Joe [Allen.]”

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The midfielder was well-liked by Liverpool fans prior to his move in the summer but he was not a regular first-team player and he was expected to leave.

Allen followed former boss Brendan Rodgers to Merseyside in 2012 after impressing under the Northern Irishman at Swansea but he struggled to break into the first team regularly until his final season.

Under Jurgen Klopp, he played an important role in the squad as Liverpool reached the finals of both the Europa League and the League Cup but failure to secure a European spot ultimately proved costly.

The 26-year-old may have remained at the club in 2016-17 had the Reds been competing in the Champions League but he opted for a move away in search of first-team action.

Since joining Stoke, the Welshman has made 18 appearances in all competitions and scored five Premier League goals, four of which came in the space of four weeks.

In other Liverpool news, these were the best moments for the club in 2016.