Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has said he is waiting to see how his squad shapes up before appointing a captain in an interview with the Stoke Sentinel, with the Northern Irishman yet to name Ryan Shawcross’ permanent successor.
The 33-year-old left the club by mutual consent in February after spending 14 years at the club and over a decade as skipper, linking up with Inter Miami in the United States and leaving O’Neill with a big decision to make on the captaincy this summer.
20-year-old key player Nathan Collins has already left the bet365 Stadium this summer, with replacement Ben Wilmot coming in later that day. And with Mario Vrancic also arriving reasonably quickly after John Obi Mikel’s departure to Kuwait, they have dealt with these problems swiftly.
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But with a new captain yet to be named and the experienced Mikel leaving the club earlier this month, there is increasing speculation over who will be given the role ahead of next season.
Joe Allen and Harry Souttar have both been at the club since 2016, putting them in the frame despite the latter only turning 22 in October.
However, Allen has been linked with a move away from Staffordshire in recent months, perhaps preventing him from becoming the Potters’ leader despite having the quality and international experience to take the captaincy on.
One player who is set to stay is Sam Clucas, who signed a new contract earlier today to keep him at the club until 2023. The midfielder is also a potential candidate after joining three years ago.
Speaking to the Stoke Sentinel on this subject, the Stoke manager said: “I have given it some thought, but I want to see how the squad shapes up and who we get in the building before making the decision.
“It’s more than likely to be a player that has been at the club for a period of time, so we’ll see.
“It was different because Ryan had been captain for such a long period of time, and since I’d been here, Ryan was captain but unfit to play for the majority of that time.
“The captaincy since I’ve been here hasn’t been a focus really for me because I wasn’t going to change it from Ryan. We hoped he would get fit. Then people put the armband on in his absence.
“It’s something we’ll address before the season starts.”
The Potters have been mediocre at best over the past few years since their relegation from the Premier League – and it’s such a shame to see after they became such an established top-flight outfit before suffering the drop in 2018.
Their recent fortunes have made it even more important they appoint the right character as their new skipper – someone with personality, resilience, experience and a man who can command respect in the dressing room as they look to turn things around under Michael O’Neill.
Depending on the Welsh international’s future, Allen and Clucas could be the lead candidates to take on this role.