Michael O’Neill has already identified the players he wants to strengthen Stoke City’s promotion push but accepts they face intense competition from their Championship rivals to sign them.
The transfer window opens for business on Saturday with the Potters’ chief hoping to bolster his squad as they look to maintain their push for a top-six finish this season.
Stoke’s need for new signings has intensified in recent weeks as a result of losing top scorer Tyrese Campbell to a knee injury which has left the forward facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
A striker looks to be a priority for O’Neill who said he and his recruitment team had singled out whom they wanted to sign earlier this year.
But he fully expects most sides to be fighting it out over the same players.
“The important thing for us was that, come January, we would be in a position where we could make a challenge and I think we are in that position,” he said.
“If the opportunity comes to make improvements that will help us then, hopefully, we’ll be able to try to do that.
“But everyone’s the same and, what happens in the Championship, is everyone wants the same players.
“We identified the players we wanted some time ago. It’s been a constant process. Obviously, when Tyrese’s injury was diagnosed to the extent it was, it put us in a more of an emergency state to find that right type of player as well.
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“It is a slow process and it’s quite a frustrating process. Ultimately, and particularly for loan players, you’re never in control of that situation.
“It’s obviously the parent club that controls that and you have to deal with the player, the agent, the club, and hopefully, they see you as a good option for the boy in terms of his development.
“But I think for this season, more than any other, there’s a shortage of players because the bigger squads in the Premier League, and because of Covid, are probably keeping more players in their own squads as opposed to possibly younger players going out on loan.
“And that’s the market where everyone’s possibly looking for that real quality which can make a difference in the second half of the season.”