This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
New Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill may have been pleased with a win in his first game in charge, but that has not stopped him looking to strengthen his squad, with Middlesbrough left-back George Friend a target, according to the Northern Echo.
Friend, 32, is out of contract with Boro next summer and so far has had limited game-time under Jonathan Woodgate, so it may well suit both parties if the full-back moves on in January.
So would Friend be a good signing for the Potters and is he actually needed at the Bet365 Stadium?
“Friend would be an excellent addition for Stoke were they to bring him in from Middlesbrough, with left-back having been a real problem position for them so far.
“The defender has great experience of the Championship, and was part of a Middlesbrough defence which shipped the joint fewest amount of goals last term.
“Friend also offers vital leadership qualities which Stoke have been somewhat lacking in the absence of Ryan Shawcross.
“O’Neill will be wanting backing from Stoke’s board in January and signing Friend would be a statement of intent that the Potters can get out of trouble.”
“I think this would be a decent signing for the Potters, particularly as Friend possesses a good level of Championship experience, having plied his trade at Middlesbrough for a good while now.
“Given that Stoke only have Stephen Ward as their only recognised left back, it would make sense for the club to bring in some competition for the Irishman, particularly as we continue to progress through the season.
“It would be interesting to see if Friend would move on from Boro, particularly as he is 32 and seemingly coming towards the end of his career, his next transfer would surely be his last.
“It remains to be seen if Stoke will act on their interest, but Friend is sure to be a wanted man for the Potters if he continues to stand out in a Boro shirt, to which he has yet to do this season, making just two Championship appearances.”
Would George Friend be a good signing for the Potters?
“This would be a solid signing for Stoke in January as Friend is exactly the kind of player they need in order to stay in the Championship this term.
“The defender’s quality and leadership skills were clear to see when he made his return for Middlesbrough over the weekend, and Stoke should definitely look to sign him on a cut-price deal if he becomes available.
“Friend has bags of Championship experience and he is such a reliable presence in the back line, which would make him a vital player for the Potters in a relegation battle, and he would perhaps a more suitable option than taking a risk with an expensive big-name signing.
“Stoke should make Friend a prime target in the January window, but they may face a difficult task in convincing to leave Middlesbrough, where he is clearly settled.”