Ranks with best – Stoke City boss appraises ace midfielder



Michael O’Neill says Sam Clucas is as good as any other goalscoring midfielder in the Championship based on the form since he took charge of Stoke City.

Clucas sits on 10 goals after his brace in Stoke’s last fixture against Hull – becoming the first midfielder to hit double figures for the club since Graham Kavanagh nearly two decades ago.

And the Stoke manager hinted that it was almost love at first sight after seeing Clucas grab the headlines during his very first match in the City dugout back in early November.

“He’s not a player I would have known particuarly well before I came to the club,” said O’Neill, “but he’s made a real impact, even in my first game with two goals at Barnsley.

“As a goalscoring midfield player, he ranks with anything in the division that I’ve seen.

“Lovely balance he gives us on the left-hand side as well and his form has been excellent.

“There’s so much more than just scoring goals though. Sometimes you get midfield players who do score goals, but often aren’t involved in the game that much.

“But Sam’s involvement in the game is from minute one to minute 90.

“He competes for second ball, he’s good in the air, he’s good on the ball and he creates chances as well.

“So I’ve been really delighted with him and Joe (Allen) in that midfield three, with whoever’s played with them, it has been a really strong part of our team.”





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