Boss explains why young Stoke City defender can’t make matchday 18



Manager Michael O’Neill says Tom Edwards is far from a forgotten player after his disappearance from both the starting 11 and the matchday 18.

O’Neill says he has his eyes on him in training every day, but he will have to be patient after losing his place to the more experienced Tommy Smith.

Smith looks set to continue at right back at Blackburn tomorrow night as O’Neill understandably leans towards an unchanged line up after Saturday’s win over Cardiff.

Edwards, now 21, has played 15 times in league and cup this season, but his only appearance since mid December came in the FA Cup defeat at Brentford in early January.

“He trains every day, he’s part of the first-team squad,” said O’Neill.

“When we came into the club, Tom played the early games and now Tommy Smith has come in and I think Tommy Smith has done well since he came in. That’s the nature of the competition.

“And when you’re a player who possibly isn’t that flexible in terms of positions you can play, it’s more difficult, but Tom’s a young player and he’ll push again, there’s no doubt about that.

“Probably, we try to only ever have one defender on the bench and Nathan (Collins) probably gives us more flexibility because he can play at full back and at centre back.

“So we tend to always go for three attacking players, two midfield players and one defender on the bench most weeks, so Tom has probably suffered a little bit because of that.

“But he’s there every day training away and part of a group of players working hard and trying to progress.”





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