Stoke City were linked with a move for Hearts defender John Souttar in mid-November, as per a report from the Scottish Sun, following an injury to the Scotsman’s brother, Harry.
The 25-year-old, who enjoyed an excellent 2021 for club and country, is also on the radar at Sheffield United, with the Blades labelled as “strong contenders” by Sun journalist Alan Nixon on Twitter.
Here, we take a look at three other central defenders the Potters should consider if Sheffield United do emerge victorious in their pursuit of the Scottish international…
Quiz: Did Stoke City do these 22 things in 2021?
Dion Sanderson has been recalled by Wolves after an impressive loan spell with Birmingham City this season, with the 22-year-old heading back to the Premier League club to strengthen up the squad whilst Covid cases remain high.
However, according to The Athletic’s Tim Spiers, the young defender is likely to head back out on loan nearer the end of the window.
Whilst it would seem logical to return to the Blues, Birmingham almost immediately filled the void that Sanderson left with highly-rated Manchester United centre-back Teden Mengi, meaning they could be less interested in a second move.
This is where Stoke could capitalise, with the 22-year-old emerging as an exciting defensive prospect.
Harry Darling is proving to be one of the best defenders in League One this season and has a lot of attributes that would suggest he is ready for the step up.
Not only does he possess the physical attributes needed to operate at Championship level, but he is also an excellent ball-playing centre-back who likes to break the lines with his impressive range of passing.
At just 22 years of age, Darling does not just have the ability to cut it in the second-tier, but there is also scope for him to progress into a Premier League player.
Michael Hector has previously shown his undoubted ability at centre-back on a more consistent basis, but he finds himself struggling for much game time at Fulham at present.
The Cottagers are one of just a select number of Championship sides who are more reluctant to switch to a back five, further limiting his chances for regular first-team contention.
You would think that Hector still has a lot to give at second-tier level, and he has what it takes to help Stoke maintain a promotion push.