Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup penalty shootout win over Leeds United will have provided some much-needed relief for Nathan Jones and his Stoke City side, but you feel they will need much more than that to lift the pressure on both manager and club.
Having taken just a single point from their first five Championship games of the season, Stoke head into tomorrow’s meeting with Birmingham City at St Andrew’s bottom of the early league table.
Add to that the fact that Jones has taken just three league wins in 25 Championship games in charge of the club since taking charge in January, you feel that the Welshman has to do something fast if he is to secure his future with the Potters long term.
With that in mind, here are THREE risks Jones could take in a bid to turn his side’s fortunes around.
Call for Campbell
Despite the additions of the likes of Lee Gregory, Scott Hogan and Nick Powell over the course of the summer transfer window, Stoke’s attack doesn’t really feel like it has started to fire on all cylinders so far this season.
As a result, you wonder whether Jones could turn elsewhere in search of some fresh attacking impetus, and in Tyrese Campbell – son of former Arsenal and Everton striker Kevin – they may have a very useful option.
Despite never really getting his chance in the Championship, Campbell certainly proved a point in the Carabao Cup against Leeds on Tuesday, producing an impressive assist for Sam Vokes, while generally causing trouble for the hosts’ defence throughout the course of the evening.
You wonder therefore, whether it could be worth giving the youngster a start in the league sooner rather than later, to see if he can make a similar sort of impact when there are all important points on the line.
Bring back some of the more experienced exiles
Interestingly, one player who was making his first start of the season for Stoke in the Cup on Tuesday was Bruno Martins Indi.
The defender had seemingly been close to a move away from the Potters earlier in the summer, but could now be set to stay at the club for the time being, which given the long term absence of captain Ryan Shawcross due to injury, would offer Stoke someone with some much needed experience and top-flight pedigree in their backline.
The Dutchman isn’t the only player for the Potters to consider here. Having spent last season back on loan with Galatasaray, midfielder Badou Ndiaye had also been linked with a permanent move away from the club this summer, only for things to now seemingly go quiet as the final days of the European window draw nearer.
While both Ndiaye and Martins Indi may be disappointed to get moves elsewhere this summer, the fact is that they are both players who are more than capable of competing at this level, and that is something that Stoke seem to really need right now, so you feel it makes sense to look to use them while they have them.
A break for Butland
For all his ability and experience at the top level of English football, things just haven’t gone right for Jack Butland at the start of this season.
Following a string of errors in the first few games of the season, Butland was dropped for last Saturday’s league defeat to Leeds, only to return for the midweek cup clash against the same opposition, where it was another error from the England international – with his side 2-0 up – that handed Marcelo Bielsa’s side a way back into the game.
With every error that Butland makes, the scrutiny on him is going to intensify further, and no amount of goals scored by the ‘keeper in a penalty shootout – as he did on Tuesday – are going to help Stoke pick up the points they need in the Championship this season.
In Adam Federici and Adam Davies, Stoke have two more than capable understudies to step in between the posts, and it might be time to let one of them have an extended run in the side, giving Butland the opportunity to get his head around missing out on a return the Premier League this summer, and eliminate those costly errors from his game in the process.