Here are your Stoke City morning headlines for Thursday April 23
Mo Sankoh is being pursued by Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, according to Goal.
The 16-year-old Stoke City youth forward has been in fine form this season, helping the under-18s reach the Premier League Cup final. He was the youngest player in the Netherlands squad who were crowned under-17s European champions last year.
Stoke pulled off a coup to keep hold of the youngster, a Clayton Hall student, last summer and there is excitement in the club about his potential.
Michael O’Neill was watching from the stands in the final game before the shut down.
Goal report: “Sankoh is arguably the hottest property in the Championship club’s Academy… both Chelsea and Atletico have had talks with the 16-year-old.”
O’Neill has stepped down as Northern Ireland boss after Uefa were forced to delay the Euro 2020 qualifying play-offs until at least October.
He has always admitted that the two jobs were impossible to juggle in the long-term but he had been committed to seeing through the campaign, having got within two wins of reaching the finals for the second time in a row.
It is with a heavy heart that he hands over the reins – but it is his day-to-day job at Stoke City that has to take priority.
The Daily Mail claim that O’Neill was in line for a £500,000 bonus if he had guided Northern Ireland through the qualifiers – taking on Bosnia and then the winners of Republic of Ireland and Slovakia.
But Northern Ireland now start the search for his successor – and he leaves big boots to fill.
O’Neill has revived the team’s fortunes since he was appointed in December 2011 after a successful time in charge of Shamrock Rovers.
He only won one of his first 18 games in charge and the nation dropped to 129th in the world rankings – but he leaves them in 36th place. They reached the knock-out stages of Euro 2016 in France and only narrowly missed out on making the 2018 World Cup.
Ian Baraclough, currently Northern Ireland under-21s coach, is bookies’ favourite to take over while Irish FA’s elite performance director Jim Magilton, Motherwell’s Stephen Robinson, Hull City’s Grant McCann and St Johnstone’s Tommy Wright are also contenders.
Stoke City fan and author David Lee has stumbled on a 29-year-old cutting which conjures up an image of alternative universe.
Back in the summer of 1991, Stoke’s board led by chairman Peter Coates were on the look out for a new permanent manager to replace Alan Ball.
The task was clear but it was huge: the Potters had just finished 14th in the third tier, the lowest position in the club’s long history, and needed energising and putting firmly back on the right path.
Coates interviewed three candidates and offered the job to one, who he has never named, before he found out Lou Macari was available from Birmingham. An ‘embarrassing’ phone call later, it was Macari they wanted – and Macari delivered a Wembley victory then promotion as he galvanised the club.
But who were the ones that got away?
One of those interviewed was then-Bournemouth chief Harry Redknapp.