Championship side Stoke City have omitted James McClean, Tom Ince, Lee Gregory and Sam Vokes from their pre-season trip to Northern Ireland according to the Stoke Sentinel, with all four likely to leave the club before next month’s transfer deadline.
Former Wales striker Vokes has experienced a tough two-and-a-half years since he arrived from Burnley in 2019 after forming such a formidable partnership with Danny Ings at the Lancashire side – and now looks set for an exit after failing to fire the Potters to greater things.
Although the 31-year-old is not fully to blame for where Stoke currently find themselves after enduring three mediocre midtable Championship finishes in recent seasons, his form has summed up the Staffordshire side’s fortunes in recent years as they look to get back to the top flight.
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Fellow outcast Tom Ince’s failed move has been particularly costly though, with the bet365 Stadium outfit forking out £10m for his services from Huddersfield Town. He spent the second half of last season on loan at Luton Town with his career at his parent club all but finished.
Lee Gregory’s potential exit comes as no surprise either, after spending time on loan at Ince’s old club Derby County in the latter stages of the last campaign.
According to last week’s report from Football League World, Ipswich Town are confident of securing the 32-year-old’s signature but their recent signing of fellow forward Joe Pigott may have ruled out this move to Portman Road.
For many outsiders though, James McClean’s omission will be the most surprising after being a regular for the Potters over the last three seasons.
However, a Covid-19 protocol breach in January and his decision to play through an injury for the Republic of Ireland against his domestic side’s wishes may have contributed towards this decision to potentially cash in on the winger.
Stoke City’s spending spree in the summer of 2018 has hampered their progression in recent times and it’s something the Staffordshire side desperately need to learn from. From the way they’re looking to cut costs this summer, it looks as though they have.
At the time, Michael O’Neill’s side had just been relegated from the Premier League and after that summer window of spending, they were hot favourites to go straight back up.
But players like Ince and Oghenekaro Etebo, who has just joined Watford on his third loan spell away from the club, failed to live up to expectations and they are still dealing with the consequences of that.
If they can finally flush out some of these players who have been at the Potters during a difficult period for the club this summer, they will be looking towards a much brighter future where they will be able to spend a bit more.