Stoke City have had a couple of very positive transfer windows under Michael O’Neill.
The focus has been moving high-earning players on from Stoke and bringing in players who can maximise in value in the long-term for the Potters.
However, after a positive start to the 21/22 season, Michael O’Neill’s side suffered long-term injuries to several first team players leaving his side short on quality.
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Harry Souttar, Romaine Sawyers, Nick Powell and Joe Bursik have all been ruled out with injury with the latter three due to return at some point in the second half of the season.
With inconsistent form and lack of personnel severely impacting Stoke’s efforts for a top-six finish this season, it should be an active window for them.
To further highlight the need for additional players at the bet365 Stadium, teams around them like Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Nottingham Forest are looking to strengthen their squads for the second half of the season.
Going into January, we’ve taken a look at who might come in and who might be going within the next month.
One player we know is on his way out of Stoke is defender Leo Ostigard.
The Norwegian signed on loan in the summer and made a good start to life in Staffordshire as part of a back three with Ben Wilmot and Harry Souttar.
However, a dip in form saw the 21-year-old lose his place in the starting 11.
Ositgard returning to Brighton will now mean budget is freed up to look elsewhere for another defender to bring in alongside James Chester, Danny Batth and Ben Wilmot.
With the lack of options available to Michael O’Neill, it would be a surprise to see more leave the bet365 Stadium in January, even if Tyrese Campbell is reportedly of interest to Newcastle United.
Whilst a centre back should be a priority with Harry Souttar now being ruled out until next season, a defensive midfielder should also be high on the list for Michael O’Neill.
Romaine Sawyers is currently missing and you can see how his absence has hurt the side in recent weeks.
The playmaker is capable of picking the ball up from deep and playing incisive passes into the creative quarters where Mario Vrancic and Nick Powell like to operate and whilst not a defensive midfielder, Leeds United’s Stuart McKinstry has recently been linked.
Another area in need of strengthening is centre back.
The Harry Souttar-shaped hole has been felt by Stoke since his injury in November.
Not only is the towering defender able to dominate defensively, but he acts as a quarterback for Stoke, switching play to either one of the wing-backs.
Having another defender who is comfortable with the ball at his feet is needed for O’Neill if they are to make the top six this season and it could end up being Harry’s brother John, who has been linked to the Potters.