After guiding his side to a 14th place finish in the Championship earlier this year, Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has taken the club to new heights during the opening stages of the 2021/22 campaign.
The Potters have accumulated 28 points from 17 games and are currently fifth in the second-tier standings.
Set to face Peterborough United this weekend, Stoke would have been hoping to call upon the services of Harry Souttar for this particular fixture following his recent call-up by Australia.
However, the defender picked up a serious knee injury during the Socceroos’ clash with Saudi Arabia last Thursday.
As confirmed by Stoke’s official website, Souttar will now miss the rest of the season after sustaining ligament damage in this aforementioned fixture.
One of the club’s star performers in the Championship, the defender was averaging an impressive WhoScored match rating of 7.21 at this level before sustaining his injury.
With the 23-year-old now being forced to watch on from the sidelines for the foreseeable future, it could be argued that Stoke must now step up their transfer pursuit of his older brother John Souttar.
A fresh report from The Scottish Sun on Saturday has suggested that Stoke could now be looking to firm up their interest in Souttar.
When you consider that Middlesbrough and Blackburn Rovers are also being touted as potential suitors, the Potters cannot afford to dwell when it comes to making a decision on whether to submit a bid for the 25-year-old.
Whilst it may take Souttar some time to adapt to life in the Championship due to the fact that he has never featured at this level before, he is currently playing some of the best football of his career.
The defender has helped Hearts make a positive start to their return to the Scottish Premier League by registering an average WhoScored match rating of 7.27 in the 11 games that he has played in this division so far this season.
As a result of his assured displays, Souttar was called up by Scotland for their World Cup qualifying clashes with Moldova and Denmark.
With Hearts looking to tie Souttar down to a new deal, Stoke will need to offer the defender some assurances regarding game-time if they are to convince him to seal a switch to the Championship.
The Jambos may be willing to negotiate with the Potters if the defender is unwilling to commit his future to the club as the January transfer window represents the final chance that they will get to secure a fee for him as his current contract is set to expire next summer.
Providing that Stoke are able to get a deal over the line for Souttar and the defender goes on to thrive in the second-tier, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if they emerge as legitimate contenders for a play-off place in 2022.