Stoke City manager Nathan Jones has revealed that midfielder Ryan Woods still has a part to play at the club, despite seemingly heading for the exit door over the summer.
Having only joined from Brentford last summer, Woods struggled to make an impact for Stoke under Jones, with just six of his appearances last season coming after the Welshman’s appointment in January.
There was talk of a move away during the summer transfer window, with the midfielder at one point linked with a move to Leeds had Kalvin Phillips joined Aston Villa.
Woods, however, has remained at Stoke beyond the close of the summer transfer window for Premier League and Championship teams, and started for the Potters in their 3-1 defeat at Charlton Athletic on Saturday, replacing summer signing Jordan Cousins in Jones’ lineup.
Now the Stoke manager has confirmed that Woods has forced his way back into consideration for this season, telling the Stoke Sentinel: “Ryan Woods has been in our plans, he’s had a good pre-season and we are expecting big things from him.
“He hadn’t settled as well as you’d have liked here. We’ve had to do a lot of work with him and re-iterated his importance to us.”
Jones did appear to hint that Woods was close to leaving the club late in the window, which closed on Thursday, as he added: “He probably would have played the week before, but a few things were going on which are now dead and buried.”
Assessing his options in that holding midfield role, Jones claimed: “We’ve got a number of people that can play that role.
“Jordan was brought in as a real strength for us in terms of energy, but Ryan was brought here to run games and dominate games and, hopefully, that’s what he can do.
“They are totally different players. Jordan is a real athlete and provides a real defensive strength, whereas Ryan is a real ball player.”
Stoke are next in action on Tuesday night when they travel to Championship rivals Wigan Athletic in the first round of this season’s Carabao Cup, before return to league business on Saturday when they host Derby County at the bet365 Stadium.
This is an interesting one.
Woods had struggled for opportunities under Jones last season, so to see that he is now back in contention for a place in the side will be a big relief for the midfielder, and it will probably help reduce any disappointment about missing out on that move away in the summer.
That Jones has brought Woods back into the fold also feels like something that he should be credited for, given it does seem to suggest that he is open to giving new chances to players who may have previously fallen out of favour with him.
You do however have to question just how Jordan Cousins himself must be feeling about this, having been dropped after just a single game for his new side, to now find that a player in the same position as him is no longer expected to leave the club, putting his place in the starting XI under further pressure.