Stoke City have dropped to ninth in the table after a run of three consecutive defeats, which includes a 2-1 reverse to Millwall last time out.
That run has seriously halted the optimism that had built up around the Potters, who will be aiming to win promotion back to the Premier League.
Failure to do so will have consequences, one of which may be that it’s the last fans will see of Harry Souttar in a Stoke shirt. The 23-year-old has been outstanding in central defence, with his performances catching the eye.
Everton and Aston Villa have been credited with an interest in the defender, whilst Tottenham are thought to be very keen on the player.
Even though Stoke won’t want to sell, the reality is that it’s hard to stand in Souttar’s way if Spurs come in for him, whether that’s in January or next summer, so plans will have to be made for his departure.
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One option would be Harry’s big brother, John, who is excelling for Hearts in the Scottish Premiership.
He has been integral to the Jambos unbeaten start this season, impressing with his no-nonsense approach combined with quality in possession, whilst he has also chipped in with a few goals.
With his deal expiring next summer, this is a realistic addition and it could be a smart one for Stoke.
The Croatian was considering a top talent when he was signed by Leicester City after breaking through at Dinamo Zagreb as a teenager.
When he followed that up with a brilliant loan spell at Celtic, it appeared the Foxes had unearthed another gem. Yet, a tough few years have followed, with Benkovic having a few loan spells and not playing enough football.
At 24 though, there’s still time for the player to fulfil his potential and Michael O’Neill could be the man to do that.
If Souttar does depart, he’s going to command a huge fee, so Stoke will be able to go and buy proven Championship players if they want, with Millwall’s Cooper fitting into that category.
It may be a battle to convince him to swap the Den for Staffordshire, but the Potters will feel they are better equipped to winning promotion and money talks.
Should they sign Cooper, Stoke would be getting a top defender and one who will have the aerial presence and composure to compensate for Souttar’s exit.