Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has revealed that the Potters have fielded interest in goalkeeper Joe Burisk from clubs looking for emergency loan signings since the January window closed.
Bursik began the season on loan with League One Doncaster Rovers where he was making a positive impression and managed to record two clean sheets during his ten appearances and averaged two saves per game (Sofascore). He was then recalled early by the Potters after they suffered injury blows to both Southampton loanee Angus Gunn and Adam Davies.
The 20-year-old stepped up to the plate in impressive fashion for O’Neill’s side and he managed to register seven clean sheets in 15 Championship appearances (Sofascore). That came before the returns to fitness of both Gunn and Davies and has since seen him go back down the pecking order over the last few weeks.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel, O’Neill revealed that the Potters have decided to keep hold of Burisk until the end of the campaign so that he can compete with Davies and Gunn for his place in the side. He also admitted that they had fielded interest from other clubs over emergency loans for the keeper.
He said: “Joe was out on loan and the plan was for him to stay on loan in League One. That plan changed because of both senior goalkeepers getting injured. Joe came back and did very well.
“By the time we had three goalkeepers again the January window had closed so he didn’t have the option of going out on loan again, other than as an emergency loan.
“There have been clubs who have inquired for that but we don’t think they have been suitable.
“I’ve said to the goalkeepers that I don’t think they should read too much about who’s on the bench. It’s more about as a three.
“I felt Adam (Davies) deserved a chance to start because he was very unlucky to lose his place through injury. Angus (Gunn) took the opportunity, then Joe took the opportunity.
“Joe is a young goalkeeper with a lot to look forward to and a lot ahead of him. He is part of the England under-21s squad, which is a big boost for him, and he has to push to make sure he gets the opportunity to be number one here between now and the end of the season and going forward into the start of next season as well.”
It will have been a difficult period for Bursik, who would have been aiming to keep his place in the starting line-up after performing very well in the absence of both Davies and Gunn. However, that was always going to be tough with O’Neill having faith in both of those more experienced goalkeepers and with the Potters not securing consistent results as the pair came back to fitness he was dropped.
Bursik is clearly a keeper with a bright future in the game, and it could well be that if O’Neill still views him as the third choice next term then he might need to go out on loan to get regular game time. The 20-year-old has had a taste of first-team football now and is likely going to be eager to continue to get that next season.
You can understand the Potters though wanting to not let him leave on an emergency loan in recent weeks with them needing to have back-up in case of a recurrence to injuries to both Gunn and Davies. While it will also be beneficial for the keeper to remain training with the Potters and learning from Stoke’s two senior keepers.