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Michael O’Neill reveals reason behind latest Stoke City signing



Michael O’Neill has claimed the injury to Nick Powell was decisive in Stoke City’s move for Will Smallbone.

The former Manchester United player sustained a knee injury earlier this month that could keep him out of action for two months.

The injury occured during a pre-season friendly played behind closed doors with Leeds United.

With Powell not expected to return to full fitness until September, the Potters’ boss revealed that a desire for creativity in the squad necessitated the move for the Southampton player.

The addition of John O’Shea to the club’s coaching staff was also highlighted by the 53-year-old as a positive sign which should help him adapt to his new surroundings, with the pair already knowing each other well.

“Will is another creative player; he’s an attacking midfield player who can play as a 10 and as an eight,” said O’Neill, via Stoke Sentinel.

“We have an injury situation with Nick Powell, so we felt that we needed something in that area.

“John O’Shea knows him extremely well, and the opportunity to do it was there. He’s an exciting player that I think the fans will like – he scores and makes goals, and it was good to get that over the line.”

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Smallbone arrived late last week on a temporary basis from the Premier League outfit.

The Irishman has struggled with injuries since breaking into Ralph Hassenhuttl’s squad.

But a loan move has been sought in order to gain greater first team playing experience and for the 22-year-old to prove his fitness over a full season.

The Verdict

Considering Powell is only out until September, this is an unusual way for O’Neill to rationalise the signing.

But Smallbone has a lot of potential and has performed well in his few opportunities in the top flight.

A fresh start in the Championship could be just what he needs to get his career back on track, and Stoke should suit his style of play.

If Smallbone can get up to speed quickly and play well, then he could even supplant Powell in the team’s pecking order by the time the 28-year-old returns to full fitness.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Michael O’Neill reveals reason behind latest Stoke City signing

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