Nathan Jones will be eager to bolster Stoke City’s squad over the summer as he looks to build on a solid if not spectacular start as the club’s manager.
The Welshman took over from Gary Rowett at the Bet365 Stadium in January and he guided the Potters to a 16th-placed finish in the Championship, as they went unbeaten in 14 of his 21 games in charge.
It should be noted that 11 of those games were draws, which suggests that Jones has added an element of stability at the club but there is plenty of work to be done.
It has now emerged that Jones has set his sights on six or seven new signings this summer, with Portsmouth defender Matt Clarke being reported as his latest target, according to the Stoke Sentinel.
Clarke has been one of Pompey’s stand-out performers this season as Kenny Jackett’s side secured a spot in the League One play-offs, with the defender set to make his 60th appearance in all competitions against Sunderland on Thursday.
The 22-year-old’s impressive form earned him a place in the PFA League One Team of the Year and there is now growing speculation that he will move away from Fratton Park this summer, particularly if Pompey fail to win promotion.
This story is a clear sign that Jones is officially making his mark at Stoke by putting his own stamp on the club’s recruitment policy.
The club made a number of high-profile signings last summer as they targeted an immediate return to the top-flight, but a large number of these failed to pay off and a string of departures is expected from the Potters’ squad this summer.
Clarke’s potential arrival shows that Jones is targeting the best players from the lower leagues to support his rebuild effort at the Bet365 Stadium.
This seems a logical step given that Jones made his name with Luton Town in the bottom two tiers, and he will be well-accustomed with the quality available.
Jones, who has already stabilised Stoke’s defence since his arrival, will be targeting this area for further improvement in order to implement his long-term plan at the club.
Clarke is one of the fiercest competitors in League One and he certainly fits the mould of player that Jones is keen on recruiting.
Stoke fans should view this as a welcome sign that Jones has a clear vision for his Stoke side.