Michael O’Neill wants Stoke City players to grasp an unexpected opportunity in central midfield following the devastating injury to Joe Allen.
Allen is expected to face months on the sidelines after rupturing an Achilles in a 5-1 win over Hull on Saturday. The 29-year-old has been captain in Ryan Shawcross’s absence and has been one of the first names on O’Neill’s teamsheet since he was appointed in November.
Sam Clucas is an assured started too while Jordan Thompson and Jordan Cousins have alternated in a holding midfield role since the manager tweaked the formation following the injury to James McClean (medial ligaments).
Tashan Oakley-Boothe, the 20-year-old deadline day signing from Spurs, and Lasse Sorensen, Denmark youth international who has progressed through Stoke’s ranks, are also in contention for more first team chances.
O’Neill told Signal Radio: “Jordan Thompson, I thought, was very good against Hull – and Sam Clucas as well. It will give opportunities to players.
“You would rather they don’t get their opportunities through these situations like this but Tashan came on and gave us a few glimpses of what he’s about with some very good play.
“Jordan Cousins missed out but will again come into the equation and young Lasse Sorensen will probably step up now.
“What we need now before the end of the season is contribution from everyone, whether it’s from the bench or starting games.
“There’s a real good feeling in the group. Everyone will be gutted for Joe as well but we have to use the momentum we have and take it into next week.”