Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill has suggested that the Potters are hoping to continue to keep Rhys Norrington-Davies enjoying his time at the club, so that it remains an attractive place for him to come back to if the chance arises in the summer.
Norrington-Davies arrived at Stoke on loan from Sheffield United in January, with the defender having enjoyed an impressive first half of the campaign out on loan with Luton Town. The talented left-back has become an increasingly important performer for the Potters in recent weeks. He managed to get his first goal for the club in their 2-0 win against Wycombe Wanderers.
The 21-year-old is facing an uncertain summer when he heads back to Sheffield United, who are looking likely to be joining Stoke in the Championship next term. The Blades are quite strong in the full-back areas with the likes of Jayden Bogle, Max Lowe, George Baldock, and Enda Stevens all at the club. It will therefore be interesting to see if that means Norrington-Davies is made available.
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Speaking to Stoke Sentinel, O’Neill suggested that Stoke need to continue to help the full-back enjoy his time with them for the next few months before his future is assessed in the summer.
Asked about Norrington-Davies’ future, he said: “There’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before we even think about that.
“The loan deals we brought in January were based on where the market was at that point in time. It’s a totally different market in the summer.
“We’ll have to see what we do with our returning loan players as well.
“The most important thing is that these lads come here and have a good experience if they want to look at that option again that they see it as a positive option to go back to.
“But ultimately that decision lies with their parent club as well.”
This update does suggest that O’Neill has been impressed by the performances and the development of Norrington-Davies since his arrival in January. You could argue he hasn’t quite had as big of an impact for the Potters as he did for Luton in the first half of the campaign, but he has been steadily becoming more influential.
The 21-year-old looks like he is a quality option in the Championship, and with Sheffield United looking likely to be playing there next term they might feel they want to assess the defender in the summer. However, the Blades won promotion with Stevens at left-wing-back and they have another quality option in Lowe in that position.
Stoke might be able to use Sheffield United’s full-back depth to their advantage in the summer and try and convince them to allow Norrington-Davies to leave once again. The Potters need to show that they can develop and achieve positive results between now and the end of the campaign to convince the player to make the move if the chance comes around.