Michael O’Neill has made as many changes as expected as Stoke City take on Wolves in the Carabao Cup – but there are a couple of names still left out.
O’Neill has brought in seven different players, with only Adam Davies, Tommy Smith, Bruno Martins Indi and Sam Vokes keeping their places from a 0-0 draw at Millwall in the Championship last Saturday, with a home league game against Bristol City to come up on Sunday.
There is no place in the squad for Jack Butland or Tom Ince, who were on the bench at The Den.
But there are big chances for Harry Souttar and Nathan Collins in central defence and Josh Tymon, Jordan Thompson and Tashan Oakley-Boothe in central midfield.
Martins Indi is captain against the manager – Nuno Espirito Santo – who ostracised him at Porto and then sent him to Stoke, back in 2016.
Assistant Billy McKinlay told Radio Stoke: “It’s well documented we’ve got a big squad and there are players who feel like they can make an impact in the first team.
“A few of the players who are playing tonight showed up well in the pre-season friendlies against Newcastle and Leeds so we’re looking for more of the same.”
Souttar has spent the past 18 months on loan to Fleetwood Town but O’Neill has blocked loan moves back to League One, challenging the defender to break into his first team plans.
McKinlay said: “Harry’s trained well since he’s come back. We haven’t had much chance to see him prior to that, obviously last season with him being out on loan.
“He did well against Leeds in the friendly so hopefully we’ll get another opportunity to see what he’s capable of against a very good Premier League team.”
Tymon, who has usually been used wide on the left, gets a chance on the left of a midfield three.
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McKinlay said: “The Leeds game is a good reference. It wasn’t so long ago that we went to Leeds and lost 5-0 although I know it’s a totally different context.
“We’ve moved Josh inside slightly. He’s trained really well. He’s shown good energy, good legs, good quality and some intelligence in his game as well. He’s got a good chance tonight.
“He’s trained really well since we’ve come back and we’re expecting a good performance.”
Oakley-Boothe arrived from Tottenham in January and is trying to work his way up the pecking order.
McKinlay said: “The adaptation from under-23s football to the Championship, particularly in the situation we found ourselves in from Christmas until the end of last season, was cutthroat – it’s a culture shock.
“But he’s progressing nicely. He’s got plenty of attributes, some good talent and hopefully we’ll see it tonight.”
Wolves have made six changes too from the side that beat Sheffield United in the Premier League on Monday.
Wolves: Ruddy, Neves, Boly, Coady, Silva, Vitinha, Saiss, Vinagre, Dendoncker, Traore, Rasmussen. Subs: Patricio, Marcal, Neto, Jimenez, Podence, Moutinho, Shabani.
Stoke: Davies ,Smith, Collins, Souttar, Martins Indi, McClean, Thompson, Tymon, Oakley-Boothe, Gregory, Vokes. Subs: Noukeu, Fox, Batth, Brown, Fletcher, Cousins, Campbell.