Stoke have had somewhat of a rocky five years in football and the EFL, with the Potters having fallen out of the Premier League and then recently struggled in the bottom half of the Championship.
However, this year, Michael O’Neill has led his team much higher up the division and they’ll be hoping to be back in and amongst the play-off places again this campaign.
It seems as though they have finally built some solid foundations again and can now push on and launch a promotion push.
But, having looked back over the last few seasons, who would make it into the best Stoke XI from the past five years?
To start with, Jack Butland lines up in goal. Although he’s no longer at the club and the drop into the Championship led to some shaky showings, he was a tremendous player for the club during their time in the top tier. When they initially fell into the second tier, he remained a reliable player for them too and was a mainstay in the side. Therefore, he earns his place in this squad.
In defence, Harry Souttar has become a top quality player for Stoke and bags a place alongside the reliable Danny Batth in the backline. The full-back positions see Bruno Martins Indi (who can also play in the centre) shoved out onto the left so that he can fit into the team, as during his stint at the club he was a regular in the side and proved to be efficient at the back. Tommy Smith fills the other slot.
To midfield, it’s a pairing of Joe Allen and Sam Clucas in the middle. With over 150 appearances for the club so far, Allen still remains a key part of the Potters’ system and can often help break up and start attacks in the middle of the field. Alongside him is the dependable Clucas, who once top-scored for his side despite his position.
On towards the attackers now and we an attacking midfielder and two wingers. Tom Ince is pushed out to the left but deserves a place in the team because of his impact when he first arrived at Stoke.
He may not feature much for the Potters now but he was once an important member of the team and looked lively contributing both goals and assists and regularly darting down the wing and testing opposition goalkeepers.
Quiz:: Have any of these 30 ex-Stoke City players ever played abroad?
On the other wing is Xherdan Shaqiri, purely for how good of a player he was for them in the Premier League and after he left too.
He was a frequent goalscorer for the side and his mazy dribbling and attacking play kept Stoke looking threatening in the top tier despite their relegation.
Rounding it off is Nick Powell, who has emerged as one of their biggest threats in attack in the Championship. He is finally seeing his potential realised and is one of their best players – and when he is sidelined, it’s always a blow for the Potters.
In attack is Tyrese Campbell, who is young and packed with potential. He’s already bagged in the second tier despite his age and his quick thinking and quick feet for Stoke up top is often extremely useful to his team – not to mention his finishing ability.