Stoke City’s promotion hopes were dealt a significant blow earlier this month when it was confirmed that Tyrese Campbell would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Whilst the Potters have picked up five points from three games without the talented youngster, they have managed just one goal in that period.
Clearly, scoring goals is going to be a big problem, and boss Michael O’Neill has made it clear the club simply can’t go out and splash out on a big January signing to solve that issue.
However, that’s not to say they won’t be in the market for a new striker, but they will have to be creative to get a deal done for a lower fee.
And, one man who fits the bill is Lawrence Shankland at Dundee United, who Stoke have been linked with previously. The financial situation for Scottish clubs is bleak, so the Terrors may not be able to resist a suitable offer for the 25-year-old.
Some Stoke fans may be underwhelmed by the prospect of signing the player, which is understandable. He has managed just two goals in 13 top-flight games this season, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
As he has shown over the years, Shankland is a player who can finish. The issue this season is that he is playing for a newly-promoted side that have to battle for points.
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That’s not to say he would get chance after chance with the Potters, but playing alongside someone like Steven Fletcher, or with the classy Nick Powell, will allow Shankland to excel at what he does best – staying in the box and sniffing out opportunities.
Of course, Campbell brought more to the team with his pace, but the main problem for O’Neill is going to be about finding the back of the net.
So, taking a chance on Shankland could be a gamble that pays off. He is a goalscorer, and if Stoke are set up to give him chances, he has the composure and ability to ensure that Campbell’s absence doesn’t hit as hard as many fear.