Like most Championship teams this season, Stoke City’s league results have been rather inconsistent as the pack behind the top three in the division bunch up together.
There seems to be a bit of a gulf in class especially between both Bournemouth and Fulham and the rest of the division in terms of quality, but Michael O’Neill will be happy enough with where his Potters side are after 17 matches.
It does seem though that the Staffordshire side pick up more serious injuries than a lot of other clubs at this level and the curse has struck on more than one occasion this season.
Quiz: Have Stoke City ever won an away game at each of these 20 stadiums?
Last year it was Tyrese Campbell who was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury and his return to fitness coincided with the loss of Nick Powell to a cracked fibula.
Whilst it could have been a lot worse for the ex-Manchester United man, his absence has left a bit of a creative hole and O’Neill has had to shuffle the pack and change tactics in the way his side plays.
Powell may be back in a months time but his absence has perhaps strengthened the need to bring in another attacking midfielder – as well as a centre-back thanks to Harry Souttar’s devastating knee injury – and it’s Derby’s Tom Lawrence that has been linked to the bet365 Stadium by the Daily Mail.
Lawrence is in a very similar mould to Powell in the sense that he can create something out of nothing, but is it worth taking him on despite being in his peak years?
It may be worth Stoke going out for someone with a bit more potential who also has the ‘x factor’ and one player who seems to have that is Manchester City youngster James McAtee.
At 19 years of age McAtee has been dominating the development squad levels for City for a few years now – 10 goals and six assists in 17 under-18 Premier League matches in 2019-20 was a start and he then graduated into the under-23’s last season with much success, ending that campaign with eight goals and nine assists in 23 Premier League 2 outings.
It was perhaps a surprise that City didn’t seek a loan deal for McAtee this summer but he’s making the under-23 league his playground again with 10 goals and two assists already and he even made his senior debut in the EFL Cup against Wycombe Wanderers.
JAMES MCATEE 🔥 #MCFC
Keep an eye out for this talent on the blue half of the city. 18yrs old. Salford born. Baller. Neat control, vision, skill, good turn of feet. Left footed. Weight of pass. Got a bright future ahead of him. N ulot know my eyes are sharp. David Silva vibes. pic.twitter.com/xlDusbHf0v
— Pundit Jay (@pundit_jay) August 20, 2021
McAtee is on the radar of Swansea City according to Wales Online and if the teenager was to move in January, the style that the Welsh club play under Russell Martin would no doubt be an ideal destination for City to send him.
But Stoke also play the ball on the floor – albeit probably not as expansively as the Swans – and the club’s coaching staff will no doubt be well aware of McAtee’s talents.
That’s because Rory Delap is a first-team coach and his son Liam has been banging in the goals for City at youth level recently – they were interested in bringing him to the Potters in the summer but City did not allow him out and he’s since suffered an injury and hasn’t been seen since last month.
Arguably though it’s not a striker Stoke need but another attacking midfielder to compliment Powell or perhaps fill in for him when he’s unfit and McAtee would definitely fit the bill.