Stoke City have signed experienced goalkeeper Frank Fielding on a short-term deal, the club announced this afternoon.
The 33-year-old glovesman most recently played for Millwall before being released last summer. With Josef Bursik currently out injured, Fielding joins the ranks alongside current shot stoppers Adam Davies and Jack Bonham.
The former England U21 international has kept 51 clean sheets in 173 matches at second tier level and in that brings a composed head to Michael O’Neill’s squad. The extent of the short-term contract was not disclosed in the announcement on the club’s website, meaning there is a possibility that Fielding could merely be providing a cover option until the end of January.
The Potters have been impressive at the back so far this season, particularly when defending their own patch and Fielding’s presence should only increase the concentration of Davies and Bonham currently occupying spots within the matchday squad. Stoke enjoyed a fairly busy summer transfer window and therefore, even with their injury issues at present, it would not be a surprise to see them fly under the radar next month.
Harry Souttar’s early season form was set to cause some interest come the turn of the year but his season-ending injury, sustained in the last international break, has cooled the links with him to Premier League clubs.
Quiz: 30 questions about Stoke City’s best strikers from the last 5 years – Can you score 30/30?
Fielding is a sensible addition, how much he will play remains to be seen but a lack of game time has been something that the 33-year-old got used to at Millwall. The consistently superb performances of Bartosz Bialkowski meant that Fielding managed just one second tier appearance in two seasons at The Den and saw him a less desirable commodity in the summer.
It is a cheap gamble, O’Neill could simply just be looking to keep Davies and Bonham on their toes as with Bursik on the sidelines their positions in the matchday squad appeared guaranteed. Fielding does not command a place in the starting XI but is a threat and healthy competition if nothing else.