Stoke City only have two senior centre backs with contracts beyond the end of this season, at the time of writing, as per Transfermarkt, which gives the club a lot to think about heading into the summer transfer window.
Only two will remain when Liam Moore and Taylor Harwood-Bellis return to their parent clubs and James Chester and Phil Jagielka’s contracts run out.
Michael O’Neill has persisted with a three at the back formation for the vast majority of the season, and reinforcements will be needed if that is to remain the system of choice heading into next season.
The Potters looked, at one stage, one of the most likely sides to push some of the more recent ex-Premier League sides at the summit of the division this season, but an injury crisis, that included key man Harry Souttar being ruled out for the season, saw them drastically plummet towards a likely bottom half finish.
Here, we have taken a look at three defensive reinforcements Stoke should target this summer…
The most glamorous option in this list is Darragh Lenihan.
The 28-year-old is out of contract at Blackburn Rovers at the end of the season and has been a key cog in Tony Mowbray’s men’s surprise promotion push.
The Irishman will have considerable options in the summer given his consistent performances at Ewood Park, but could be persuaded to step into a starting berth for the Potters.
The youthful option, Holmes has made 71 second tier appearances by the age of 22, and is approaching the expiration of his contract at Reading.
Holmes’ wages will not be close to Lenihan’s, therefore, now heading into their fifth season since relegation from the Premier League, he offers a value in the market with a view to the long term.
Holmes is not the finished article yet as a Championship defender but could certainly be an important squad player if the Potters can improve on this season.
Quiz: Which club did Plymouth Argyle sign these 24 players from in the 1990s?
A left footed centre back will need to be acquired especially if O’Neill remains in place and goes with a back three once again.
Plymouth Argyle have been very solid defensively this season and Gillesphey has been a huge part of that.
The 26-year-old will enter the final year of his contract in Devon next season, and therefore could be available for slightly less than his true value this summer.