Michael O’Neill speaks out as Stoke City wait on EFL call


Michael’s message

Michael O’Neill has been channelling his inner international manager during this coronavirus pandemic.

The Stoke City boss has been used to not having access to players for weeks on end while overseeing his Northern Ireland duty, and because of the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic going on around the world, a similar situation has occurred for him at club level.

That battering of Hull City in Stoke’s last run-out certainly seems like an age ago; frustrating, really, considering that confidence levels within the Stoke squad must’ve been sky high at that stage and they’ve not been able to follow it up.

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Adam Davies, Adam Federici.

Defenders: Danny Batth, Moritz Bauer**, James Chester*, Nathan Collins, Tom Edwards, Liam Lindsay, Bruno Martins Indi, Ryan Shawcross, Tommy Smith, Harry Souttar**, Josh Tymon, Stephen Ward, Kevin Wimmer**.

Midfielders: Joe Allen, Sam Clucas, Jordan Cousins, Peter Etebo**, James McClean, Badou Ndiaye**, Nick Powell, Ollie Shenton**, Lasse Sorensen, Ryan Woods**.

Forwards: Benik Afobe**, Tyrese Campbell, Mame Diouf, Lee Gregory, Tom Ince, Julien Ngoy, Thibaud Verlinden, Sam Vokes.

*on loan

**out on loan

Upon reflection

The decision that had to be made by Charlie Adam back in the summer of 2012 was a rather straightforward one.

Many would’ve forgiven Adam for hanging around at Liverpool, only a single season after arriving at Anfield from relegated Blackpool, to try and work his way back into the manager’s plans.

There was a change in management at Liverpool that summer, though, and Adam was informed by new boss Brendan Rodgers that he wouldn’t be a part of his plans going forwards, and so he best look for a new club.

Stoke City were only too happy to take him on.

Catch me if you can... Charlie Adam gives team-mates the slip after scoring his winner against Manchester United
Catch me if you can… Charlie Adam gives team-mates the slip after scoring his winner against Manchester United

Further down the ladder

The National League, as well as the National Leagues North and South, have been suspended indefinitely on Tuesday afternoon as clubs in the Premier League and EFL await decisions from their respective governing bodies.

With many levels of English football’s non league already being declared null and void by the FA, the highest tiers have now taken the decision to take away the proposed return date and will not resume action until it is completely safe to do so.

Stoke City and the rest of the Championship are waiting for decisions to be made by the FA and EFL in the coming days and weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic which has forced the suspension of the season.

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Future plans

The two players who Stoke City have loaned from Premier League Aston Villa this season could still have a future with their parent club.

That’s the view of former England and Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson, who has seen enough from both James Chester and Scott Hogan this season to suggest that they might still be a part of Dean Smith’s future plans.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic forcing the suspension of the EFL and Premier League, Villa were sitting in the relegation spots and, should the campaign be completed as hoped, they’ll have a battle on their hands to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, where Stoke currently find themselves.

Determined to succeed... James Chester before Saturday's win over Cardiff
Determined to succeed… James Chester before Saturday’s win over Cardiff

Benik’s back

It’s been a season of frustration for Benik Afobe – as well, of course, as a very sad one away from football.

The Stoke City forward left the Potteries last summer in the hope of reigniting his career when he made for Championship rivals Bristol City.

Under Robins boss Lee Johnson, he hit the ground running, scoring three times in his first six league appearances.

Stoke City forward Benik Afobe keeps his followers updated via Instagram

Sick messages

James McClean’s brother Patrick has leapt to the defence of his Stoke City playing sibling after the 30-year-old was fined two weeks wages and made to delete his Instagram account when he published a controversial post.

The Republic of Ireland international has come under fire from the press once again after he posted an image of himself homeschooling his children in which he wore a balaclava and described it as a ‘history lesson’.

The post was later deleted and the midfielder has since received death threats in response with some internet trolls wishing serious illness on his children – and even death.

James McClean has been a key man for Stoke City under Michael O’Neill.

Repercussions

Members from all 20 Premier League clubs will share a conference call on Friday to discuss £762m plans to complete the league season behind closed doors – and that could have a big impact on Stoke City ‘s finances.

That is according to a report by Mail Online who claim to reveal ambitious plans that will see the league season resume in May.

The EFL and Premier League have both in the past, via statements from themselves and the FA, have promised to align their plans meaning any decision on Friday could have repercussions throughout the top four professional divisions.

The National League, who commend the top three divisions of English football’s non-league, have already deemed their season null-and-void meaning no sides will be relegated or promoted – despite an open-letter, signed by 60 non-league sides, asking them to reverse their decision.





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