Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman has insisted that although he currently believes that Stoke City are legitimate contenders for a top-six finish this season, he has suggested that losing Harry Souttar to injury is a big blow for the club.
The defender sustained knee ligament damage whilst on international duty with Australia and is now set to miss the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign as a result of this issue.
Souttar will undergo surgery on his injury before embarking on his road to recovery.
After making 38 appearances for the club in the Championship last season, Souttar has helped his side make an encouraging start to the current term.
The defender featured in 16 of Stoke’s opening 17 league games before picking up his season-ending injury last week.
In the 23-year-old’s absence, Potters manager Michael O’Neill will be hoping that the likes of James Chester, Ben Wilmot, Danny Batth and Leo Ostigard will be able to step up to the mark.
Set to face Peterborough United this weekend, Stoke could move above Coventry City in the second-tier standings if they beat Darren Ferguson’s side at the bet365 Stadium.
Ahead of this clash, Goodman has admitted that Souttar’s injury is a major blow for Stoke.
Speaking on the latest episode of the Sky Sports EFL Podcast about Souttar, Goodman said: “He has been a massive part of the style that Michael has adopted.
“It has been a slow burner for Michael O’Neill at Stoke, he’s had to be patient, he’s lost key players.
“Last season obviously he lost Tyrese Campbell, you saw the effect that had on the team, the negative impact.
“He will be hoping that they don’t have to go through that again as Harry Souttar has been a massive part of where Stoke have got to.
“They are now after quite a while, quite a few years, I would consider them as genuine, genuine play-off, promotion candidates.
“So to lose a key player is a tough one to take but I heard Michael talk about it, he understands that that is the nature of the beast.
“These things happen in football and his team have to get on with it but it is a big blow there is no doubt about that.”
When you consider just how impressive Souttar has been for Stoke this season, it will be intriguing to see how they respond to this particular setback.
Losing a player who has played an integral role in the club’s success in recent times could potentially galvanise the rest of the squad as they now know that they will need to step up their performance levels.
Chester and Wilmot will both be vying for a spot in Stoke’s back-three for this weekend’s clash.
Whereas Chester knows exactly what it takes to thrive at this level due to the fact that he has made 288 appearances in this division during his career to date, Wilmot may be given the nod to feature after being brought on as a substitute in the club’s recent clash with Luton Town.