Stoke City will be looking to end the 2020/21 Championship campaign strongly and continue to build for next season.
The Potters have endured a solid if not spectacular season under Michael O’Neill, and sit 11 points off the play-offs in 11th with six matches remaining this term.
After a couple of turbulent seasons back in the Championship, a solid, mid-table finish perhaps shouldn’t be scoffed at by Stoke fans, as they look to build momentum heading into next season.
You suspect Stoke to give it a right go in pursuit of Premier League football next season, after consolidating under O’Neill and building foundations to work from.
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The former Northern Ireland boss will be keen to strengthen his squad this summer, but in a market where finances are likely to be quite tight, can they afford to go out and splash the cash?
Thankfully for O’Neill, Stoke have a good academy with plenty of players earning rave reviews in the youth setup, and some may be ready to make the step up next season.
Here, we take a look at two wonderkids who could emerge and save Stoke a lot of money this summer…
Wright-Phillips – the son of Shaun – joined Stoke from Manchester City in February, and has since hit the ground running for the Potters.
In seven Premier League 2 appearances, the young forward has scored three goals and registered two assists, scoring a brace in their last fixture against Aston Villa towards the end of March.
At 19, Wright-Phillips still has plenty to improve on if he wishes to become a first-team regular, but his impressive form for the Under-23s’ is eye-catching.
Is there any need to go out and sign another experienced striker this summer, when you have players like him coming through the ranks? The next Tyrese Campbell?
Another 19-year-old impressing for the Under-23s’ is Coates.
Coates has worked his way up the youth ranks at Stoke to become a key player for the Under-23’s.
This season, in 16 Premier League 2 appearances, the right-back has scored three goals and chipped in with a few assists, showing his willingness to get forward and join in with attacks.
There is scope for a new right-back to come in and become a first-team regular under O’Neill, and Coates’ ability to get forward could see him thrive in a wing-back role.