Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has insisted that he wants to see both Harry Souttar and Nathan Collins remain with the Potters and establish themselves amongst the best players in the Championship.
The Potters are set to face a challenging summer window where they are going to have to fend off interest in some of their best young talents.
Souttar is already being linked with a potential move to both West Ham and Wolves, while Burnley have also emerged as potential suitors for the defender, with them also believed to be keen on Collins, who is also reportedly interesting Arsenal as well.
Keeping hold of players like Souttar and Collins, as well as continuing to develop players like Tyrese Campbell and Joe Bursik will be crucial to the Potters’ hopes of challenging for promotion back to the Premier League. If they can add to the squad and see better performances from those players on a consistent basis then they could mount a promotion challenge next term.
8 of these 20 players never scored a goal for Stoke City – Can you identify them?
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, O’Neill insisted that he wants to see the likes of Souttar, Collins, and Campbell continue to remain with the Potters and keep developing and challenged them to establish themselves amongst the division’s best players.
He said: “We’ve got those younger players through.
“For a number of them this has been their first full season playing in the Championship and the second season is arguably sometimes more testing.
“But we’re optimistic that Harry and Nathan, Tyrese, Joe, will continue on the upward curve they are on in their careers.
“We want them to continue not only to establish themselves in our team but establish themselves as top Championship players with the potential to be Premier League players.
O’Neill is right that the focus has to be on ensuring that they continue to keep hold of the club’s most promising talents and hope that they keep progressing at their current levels. The likes of Souttar and Collins have taken their games to a new level throughout the course of the season this year and that is being recognised by clubs in the Premier League.
Stoke are not in the financial position where they can go out and buy the best players in the Championship, and therefore their best hope of challenging for promotion is to keep hold of their young players and look to get more from them. Souttar and Collins, as well as Campbell, could well be amongst the best players in the division if they find consistency and avoid injuries.
However, keeping hold of them is going to be challenging considering the amount of reported interest there is already in them. Stoke are not in a position where they can afford to turn down massive transfer fees offered to them. Therefore, they might be vulnerable to losing one or two of them in the next few transfer windows.