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‘His opportunity to shine’ – Michael O’Neill facing Stoke City selection dilemma ahead of Huddersfield clash: Fan’s Voice

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This article is part of Football League World’s ‘Fan’s Voice’ series, where we gather original opinions from those closest to the clubs concerned on matters surrounding their team and share them with a wider audience…

Stoke City have been dealt a frustrating injury blow ahead of their match against Huddersfield Town this weekend, with goalkeeper Angus Gunn set for a spell in the treatment room. 

The shot-stopper has been impressive for the Potters this term since arriving on loan from Premier League side Southampton in the summer transfer window.

But the goalkeeper has picked up an ankle ligament injury, which is set to rule him out of action for six weeks.

The Potters have acted swiftly though, and have recalled Joe Bursik from his loan spell with Doncaster Rovers to solve their injury crisis between the posts.

Football League World’s Stoke City fan Elliot Yates reacted to the news of Gunn’s frustrating injury blow,and was left frustrated with the timing of his injury, with Adam Davies still ruled out with an injury of his own.

“Gunn has performed excellently for Stoke in recent matches after a debut to forget, coming on for Adam Davies against Swansea in an unconvincing 2-0 defeat, in which he made an error for the second goal.

“But the 24-year-old has had a run of clean sheets in which he’s made a string of great saves in the last month. He arrived having last played a full 90 minutes for Southampton against Leicester, in an embarrassing 9-0 defeat, he seemed to be restoring his confidence at Stoke and his injury has certainly come at the wrong time for him.”

Yates has been left impressed by Bursik’s performances out on loan in recent seasons, and felt as though his regular game time in senior football away from Stoke will have served him well, as he looks to challenge for a first-team spot with Michael O’Neill’s side.

“However, Stoke have two young internationals lined up to fill Gunn’s boots for Saturday, England u21 international, Joe Bursik and Cameroon international Blondy Nna Noukeu. Both goalkeepers are very promising and have been waiting patiently for a first-team chance to arise.

“20-year-old Bursik was recently recalled by Stoke from Doncaster Rovers and impressed so highly he earned himself an England u21s call up keeping a clean sheet on his debut against Albania, whilst also impressing for Accrington Stanley on loan last season.

“He has said recently that ‘I want to get experience to show I am capable of playing for Stoke’ and his intent to wanting to play for Stoke in the future led to him signing a new long-term contract last season.

“Game time has proved to be beneficial for players like Tyrese Campbell and Harry Souttar who both went on loan to League 1 sides, Shrewsbury and Fleetwood Town, and are now first team regulars.

“The same could happen with Bursik. He looks ready judging by his performances in League 1 and this could now be his opportunity to shine now he has regular football under his belt.”

Another shot-stopper that will fancy his chances of coming into the starting XI this weekend is Blondy Nna Noukeu, who has been named on the substitutes bench in recent weeks with Davies ruled out.

Can you score full marks on this 20-question Stoke City quiz? 

1 of 20

Who has scored the most goals for the Potters in the league so far this season?

Yates praised Noukeu for his performances for the club’s academy teams, but expects to see Bursik start ahead of him due to his experience in senior football.

“Blondy Nna Noukeu hasn’t registered an appearance in senior football yet but looks to be just as promising. A surprise call-up to the Cameroon Men’s team he has been learning from those around him in recent years such as Jack Butland at Stoke and at Cameroon he’s learning from arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Andre Onana of Ajax.

“Being in such company will only help the 19-year-old develop, he looks fantastic in academy matches and has made a few appearances on the bench so far this season. However, he hasn’t proved himself in senior football yet, which is his only downfall.

“Michael O’Neill likes his sides to be youthful with a mix of experience and Bursik ticks both boxes having now played football week in week out for Doncaster Rovers this season and Accrington Stanley last season, which should just edge him to the number one jersey against Huddersfield this weekend.”

Yates recalled a similar situation that the club were faced with back in 2014, and is confident that Bursik can kick on and perform to a high standard for the Potters now that he’s been recalled.

“It isn’t the first time Stoke have had this problem, in 2014 Asmir Begovic and Thomas Sorenson were both injured which led a young Jack Butland to be brought into the team prematurely, and it didn’t turn out to be a disaster due to Stoke’s consistently good goalkeeping department over the years.

“Stoke have always had good goalkeepers from Banks; Shilton, Sorenson, Begovic and Butland. Now Joe Bursik seems to be the next one to creep into that category in the future with Blondy Nna Noukeu closely followed.

“It will be a big test for the one who gets selected against Huddersfield on Saturday, but one that they’ll certainly be able to handle.”

Disclaimer: The views cast from various supporters in the Fan’s Voice series do not represent those of Football League World.


Editorial Assistant at Snack Media, writing for Football League World on a regular basis! Sports Journalism graduate from Southampton Solent University.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: ‘His opportunity to shine’ – Michael O’Neill facing Stoke City selection dilemma ahead of Huddersfield clash: Fan’s Voice

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