Shopping list

Michael O’Neill confirms Stoke City’s summer shopping list with eyes on four new signings

Michael O’Neill is looking for a left-footed player, centre-half, midfielder and striker to continue his summer rebuilding project at Stoke City.

O’Neill brought in right-back Harry Clarke, centre-back Aden Flint and central midfielder Josh Laurent until Stoke returned for pre-season training this week.

What happens next could hinge on whether the players leave, in particular Benik Afobe and Peter Etebo – the two remaining ‘legacy contract players’ on lucrative deals signed in 2018. But Afobe – the £12.5m striker, today he 29-year-old – who has played just one game for Stoke since 2019 – is set to move to Club Brugge, managed by Carl Hoefkens and preparing for a Champions League campaign.

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And Stoke’s recruitment team have drawn up shortlists of people to target when they can move.

O’Neill said: “Where we are at the minute is that we have, I think, 16 players in the building at the minute and four or five of them are young players. That includes Tom Sparrow , Will Forrester, Connor Taylor, D’Margio Wright-Phillips, Demeaco Duhaney These players are important because we need them going forward, but we also probably need three or four more players.

“With Alfie Doughty coming out we need cover down the left side so we are obviously looking at that. We believe that with Harry’s injury we will probably need another centre-back. Harry will not be in good shape for the start of the season, we are realistic with that.

“Also, maybe we also need another midfielder, we have to manage that and the key area is also up the pitch. If you look at the attacking players, we have Jacob, we have Tyrese, who looks great the first three days, he moves really well.We have Nick Powell who played up there and D’Margio.

“These are the key areas where we think we need to add – but unless we’re generating money from the team in terms of selling a player, we’re looking at loans and we’re looking at the free agent market. .”

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