Jack Clarke believes that a settled period at Spurs has got him ready for a crack as a game changer in the Championship.
The 20-year-old winger has joined Stoke City on loan for the rest of the season having spent the first half of this term training at his parent club.
He had two loan spells last year – at first club Leeds followed by QPR – but didn’t get enough game time at either.
Michael O’Neill said: “He’s a young player that went to Spurs for a big fee, having broken into Leeds at a very young age. He then has to adapt to that situation.
“But having seen him today and having watched him prior to today, he handles a football really well. He’s very creative, he’s got good pace – he’ll stretch teams as well – and he’s versatile. He can play on both sides.
“He’s an exciting young player and hopefully we can give him the platform where he can demonstrate that because it’s always difficult when you go to a club, are loaned back, go back and then go out on loan again. That’s never easy.
“At least the last six months he’s been more settled at Spurs and he feels he’s benefited from that time, that’s helped him improve with the quality of his training and the players that he’s training with on a daily basis.
“He feels ready to come out and make an impact in the Championship again and we’re very hopeful that will be the case.”
James McClean suspended by Stoke after alleged Covid breach
James McClean has been suspended with immediate effect by Stoke City due an alleged breach of Covid-19 guidelines.
The 31-year-old posted a video of himself boxing with a trainer in a private gym on Instagram, which would be against the current UK regulations.
Stoke will now hold a disciplinary hearing. He will not be available for Saturday’s game at Blackburn Rovers.
Will Stoke go back to 4-3-3?
Michael O’Neill’s hand has been forced in terms of system since an injury to left-back Morgan Fox.
But the signing of left-back Rhys Norrington-Davies – and wingers Jack Clarke and Rabbi Matondo – could mean Stoke go back to the manager’s preferred 4-3-3.
O’Neill said: “What we’ve tried to do is add pace in the final third. I definitely think that will help us in relation to who we play as a striker if we play 4-3-3.
“Often strikers have had to play in a 3-5-2 formation, which can make it more difficult in terms of getting the right supply from the wing-back area. Those things have forced on us a little bit as well through injury.
“In the second half of the season we want to get back to a team that was pretty free-scoring in the earlier part of the season. We certainly want to try to get back to that.
“Equally we want to keep clean sheets. We’ve had 12 clean sheets, which is the second highest in the division. For that number of clean sheets we should have had more wins. That’s something we have to address as well.”