To say Stoke City fans will have been underwhelmed with their first season in the Championship in ten years feels like something of an understatement.
Only the division’s bottom two sides, Bolton and Ipswich, have scored fewer goals than the Potters, and a mid season manager change that saw Gary Rowett replaced by Nathan Jones has done little to change the club’s direction, as they currently 16th in the table with just two games of the season remaining.
Following such a disappointing return to the second tier, talk of a squad overhaul in the summer to give Jones the best chance of getting the club back to the top tier has been growing louder as the season has gone on.
Those sentiments now appear to have reached the halls of the bet365 Stadium itself, and after revealing earlier in the week that he planned to change a third of his squad in the summer, Jones has now given the first hints as to the changes he is planning to make.
Speaking about the on loan quartet of Erik Pieters; Kevin Wimmer; Badou Ndiaye and Gianelli Imbula, Jones has confirmed that at least two of the four will not return to the club next season, telling The Stoke Sentinel: “There’s some that won’t be returning to the football club and it would be wrong to say names, but as a club we’ve identified those we won’t be moving forward with.”
This should be an exciting news for Potters fans.
If Stoke are to strengthen their squad this summer then they will need both funds and space within the team, and this appears to be the first clear signs that plans are being made to do that through players sales.
With the exception of the long serving Pieters, none of the four players mentioned have made much of an impact at the club, so there should as yet be little concern as to who the club are set to lose.
While selling players already out on loan is one thing, Stoke fans will know they still need to make changes around their own starting XI if they are to have hopes of a Premier League return.
This does however show that there is a willingness within the club to makes changes within the club, and for Stoke fans, that must surely be seen as a step in the right direction.