Stoke City will be in need of reinforcements during the January transfer window if Michael O’Neill is going to be able to turn around the Potters fortunes on the field, and get them pushing up the Championship table.
The Potters managed to secure a vital 4-2 win at fellow strugglers Barnsley in O’Neill’s first game in charge of the club before the international break, with the new Stoke boss electing to deploy a 4-3-3 formation with Tom Ince and James McClean operating in the wide positions.
Stoke as a result were able to produce much more end product in the final third than they had been able to do so far this season, with the Potters having only scored 13 goals in their opening 15 games of the campaign, before their win at Barnsley last time out.
Given Stoke’s lack of goals and end product in the final third so far this season, it is little surprise to see them linked with a move for Celtic winger Jonny Hayes in the January transfer window, but there is also interest from the likes of Swansea City and Burnley.
Were Stoke to miss out on Hayes they would need to bring in an alternative in January, here then we take a look at THREE alternatives Stoke should consider in the winter window…
This would be a much more expensive option to Hayes in the January transfer window, but were Stoke to make a move for Peterborough United play maker Marcus Maddison it would certainly add real quality and attacking output to O’Neill’s side during the second half of the campaign.
Maddison has been in excellent form in League One so far this season, with the winger scoring nine goals and providing six assists, meaning he is displaying the sort of form that would see him be able to make the step up to the higher level of the Championship.
Stoke have been lacking end product in the final third so far this term, but Maddison has consistently produced high quality chances for his team-mates over the last few seasons, with the attacker creating over ten assists in each of the last four campaigns for Peterborough.
A cheaper alternative than Maddison, but a player who has been in equally impressive form in League One so far this season is Fleetwood Town’s Josh Morris, who has already scored five goals 15 league games for Joey Barton’s side so far this term.
The 28-year-old has the flexibility of being to play in a wide position and in the centre of midfield, meaning he would be able to provide quality cover in two important positions, which would potentialy make him a valuable addition at the Bet365 Stadium were the Potters to bring him in from Fleetwood.
Morris is the sort of player who will put in high work rate which is something that O’Neill demands from his players, especially in the wide positions and the attacker is able to track back effectively and prevent his full-back from becoming exposed down his side of the field.
Another alternative Stoke should consider is a potential loan move for Sheffield United’s utility man Ben Osborn, who has been struggling for regular game time so far this season, having joined the Blades from Nottingham Forest during the summer transfer window.
Osborn is able to provide the sort of work rate that O’Neill demands from his wide players, and he showed last season he can be productive in the final third scoring one and assisting five in 39 appearances for Forest last term, which was enough to convince Sheffield United to bring him following their promotion.
However, the move has so far not worked out just yet, with Osborn making just two league appearances, mainly due to the form of the Blades’ first choice wing-backs, which means that the 25-year-old could benefit from a loan move away from the club during the second half of the campaign – and given Stoke are lacking in wide options he could make a real difference to the Potters.