Michael O’Neill eyes more pace in transfer window as quizzed over Stoke City interest in Alfie Doughty


Michael O’Neill stifled a laugh when he was asked about players that Stoke City have been linked with already this month – but he does have his sights set on further additions.

Stoke have been reported to be interested in eight forwards so far this month and have already brought in one of them – 20-year-old winger Rabbi Matondo – on loan.

There has been a bid too for 21-year-old Charlton wide man Alfie Doughty, who has similar speed – and youth and pace are key attributes on the manager’s shopping list.

O’Neill said: “We’ve been linked with a number of players, which is typical. I know you have to come up with some names and some of them have surprised me to be honest.

“We want to try to improve the squad. January is a difficult window to try to do that.

“We’re not in a position when we can spend the money that we would have spent in previous years in the Championship. We have to be very selective.

“Whether that’s Rabbi Matondo coming in on loan, a young player with massive potential, or the likes of an Alfie Doughty, those types of players, we’re looking to improve in certain areas of the pitch.

“We’d like to add a bit of youth to the squad, certainly a bit of pace to the squad if we can do that.

“But having said that, we still have a number of players in the building, we still have a relatively big squad. The window will be a day by day process but we hope we will do more than just Rabbi.”

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Pace has been a common theme in the players linked with Stoke, who are missing Tyrese Campbell (knee) for the rest of the season.

Matondo, who joins from Schalke, arrives with a reputation for being one of the quickest around and that has already been seen at Clayton Wood.

O’Neill said: “I think at the top end of the game now that pace is essential really, particularly in attacking areas, and Rabbi has electric pace. You can see that even from the first training session, that was clearly visible.

“He’s a young player with massive potential.

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“He took a brave decision at a young age to go abroad and he’s had good experience in the Bundesliga playing at a very big club.

“But he’s got a target in his mind now. He’s come back to the UK, he wants to be part of the Welsh squad for Euro 2021 and we’ll give him that opportunity.

“Pace is what frightens defenders and he certainly has that in abundance.”





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