Michael O’Neill is hoping to lower the age profile of his Stoke City squad for next season.
The Potters’ boss was pleased to find the club did not have a lot of players coming back to the side following a loan stint.
That has meant the squad is the lowest size it has been since his arrival as he prepares to take charge of his third pre-season with the club.
Three players have arrived at the club this summer. Harry Clarke and Josh Laurent both fit the bill for being on the younger side, at 21 and 27-years old respectively.
Aden Flint, 32, also signed from Cardiff City.
The squad has been filled with players at opposite ends of their career in recent years, with those hitting their prime years coming in limited numbers.
But now Nick Powell, Jacob Brown, Laurent and Lewis Baker are all in that 26 to 28 age bracket.
The former Northern Ireland boss is hoping to keep players above that age to a minimum as he looks to bring in another couple of additions before the end of the transfer window.
“This is the lightest we’ve been on numbers,” said O’Neill, via the club’s official website.
“Typically in the pre-seasons I’ve had here, this is my third, we’ve always had players returning – at times, five or six players that were away from the club.
“We don’t have that at the minute. That gives us the most scope to try to build.
“We have to be very selective about what we can do financially but the squad this season going forward will have a different age profile than we’ve had in the past.”
Can you remember how much Stoke City paid for these 22 summer signings?
Stoke finished 14th in the Championship table last season, falling someway short of competing for a play-off place.
O’Neill will be hoping this is a decisive season in his tenure at the club as the team prepares for a promotion push in the next 12 months.
This is an exciting squad that O’Neill is now building at the Bet365 Stadium.
But it must be followed-up with promising performances on the pitch and good results.
If the team fails to compete for promotion this season then O’Neill’s position at the club will come under even more intense scrutiny.
That amps up the pressure on the 52-year old even further, which means this could be a make or break season for the Potters.