It has been a solid if spectacular season for Stoke City under Michael O’Neill, with the Potters looking to end the season strongly after a steady campaign in the Championship.
Stoke currently occupy 13th spot in the Championship after what has been a very bland season for the club, but after the last couple of years, fans will accept that.
Times were hard under Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones, as the club failed to acclimatise themselves following relegation from the Premier League.
But they have endured a steady campaign under O’Neill, and will now hope to build on that and gain momentum heading into next season where they will look to push for promotion.
Here, we take a look at two of the biggest decisions facing O’Neill this summer…
Replacing Nick Powell?
There are a huge 20 players out of contract at the end of next season, with Nick Powell among one of those.
Since taking charge of Stoke, O’Neill has been looking to reshape his squad due to financial and FFP reasons, whilst also building one capable of chasing promotion.
But this summer will be pivotal as O’Neill looks to resolve players’ futures and turn their finances around.
Powell has been so key for Stoke this season, scoring 12 goals in 38 Championship appearances and registering three assists.
The attacking midfielder could well attract interest from elsewhere, and if an offer did come in for him, then the club may look to cash in rather than potentially leave for nothing at the end of next season.
Who to keep?
O’Neill needs to decide on what players he wants to keep going forward, and those out of contract in 2022 should be tied down to fresh terms.
It’s not just Powell who is out of contract then. Steven Fletcher, Sam Clucas, Joe Allen and Danny Batth are also among those players.
What O’Neill needs to think about is the long-term as well as the short-term. Does he get them off the wage bill this summer, or extend their stays?