Stoke City are knocking on the door of the play-offs in eighth place.
The Potters have two games in hand and this evening’s game against Derby County gives them the chance to leapfrog Huddersfield and QPR, if results go their way.
Stoke’s fixture tonight with Derby is their first in the Championship since December 11. Last time out was a 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough.
Their recent form has seen them win two, lose two and draw one.
Following the match this evening, Stoke begin 2022 with another home game against Preston North End, who are currently 15th in the table.
Until then, here are two transfer talking points ahead of the window opening this weekend…
John Souttar not going anywhere
Souttar, brother of Stoke star Harry, is in demand this window. Souttar’s contract is up at the end of the season and is expected to leave on a pre-contract.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has insisted he won’t be for sale this January, with Hearts currently third in the Scottish Premiership and aiming for European football qualification.
Neilson suggested it is much more worthwhile to keep the players at the club whose contracts are up rather than accept lowball offers for them.
“I’ve had a chat with sporting director Joe Savage and the board. And we know that, unless somebody comes in willing to pay really big money for somebody, they’ll stay here until the end of the season because the objective this season is to get into Europe,” said Neilson, via Daily Record.
“And that financially is worth a lot of money to the club – certainly enough to outweigh any mediocre bid we’re going to get for a player.
Souttar has also been linked with Blackburn Rovers, Nottingham Forest, Rangers and Celtic, via Daily Record.
Leo Ostigard loan cut short
Brighton announced that Ostigard will be cutting his time at Stoke City short this January.
The Norwegian defender made 13 appearances, including 12 starts, for Stoke this season. But Ostigard fell out of favour in the team, with manager Michael O’Neill opting instead for the likes of Ben Wilmot, Danny Bath, Morgan Fox and James Chester.
O’Neill did confirm that it will have minimal impact on the team, but that it may free up some money on their wage bill.
“That allows us with the cost of we have of bringing Leo here, a bit of leeway to look at the market and see what we can need,” O’Neill confirmed, via the Argus.
“Not a huge amount but it frees up wages to be able to look at what our options may be.”