Nathan Collins could be at right-back for a while not just for Christmas, Michael O’Neill has hinted.
Tommy Smith is currently Stoke City’s only senior recognised right-back – with Tom Edwards out on loan at Fleetwood Town – and has already made 17 appearances already this season, scoring once.
But Collins, who has high hopes as a centre-half, could get a chance in that role to get a regular run in the first team as part of his development – just like Tyrese Campbell’s progress has leapt as he has been used out wide.
The 19-year-old has stepped across at times over the past few months and gave an eye-catching performance in a 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend.
He is expected to keep the shirt when Stoke head to Wycombe Wanderers tomorrow.
O’Neill said: “I thought Nathan did very well coming in at right-back. I think that’s a position he can really develop. If he can continue to improve playing in that position, I think that will help him down the line as a centre-back as well.
“I think that will help his development although he’s played very well for us on the right of a back three.
“I thought he defended well and joined in the game well so I was pleased for him coming in.
“Chezzie (James Chester) I thought had a very assured game, very strong, and Morgan (Fox) as well did very well defensively.
“We were pleased with the defensive aspect of the team and it was good for young Joe (Bursik) to keep a clean sheet as well. We need to replicate that and show a bit more up the top end of the pitch.”