Stoke City tipped to swoop for free-agent full-back


Stoke City are reported to be lining up a move for soon to be out-of-contract full-back Stephen O’Donnell.

The 28-year-old Scotland international signed a short-term deal with Motherwell in the summer after leaving Kilmarnock and could move for free later this month.

That has apparently alerted Michael O’Neill – who has been linked with plenty of players north of the border since joining Stoke in late 2019.

Stoke had been using centre-half Nathan Collins at right-back until an injury to left-back Morgan Fox caused a switch to wing-backs and the reintroduction of Tommy Smith.

O’Donnell was actually linked with Stoke in the summer of 2019 under Nathan Jones, who had released him from Luton Town two years previously – but Stoke landed Smith for £4m from Huddersfield instead.

There has been an eye on Tom Edwards’ progress on loan at Fleetwood Town but this position had been expected to be high on O’Neill’s priority list before injuries made the situations more pressing up front and on the left of defence.

“I certainly have enjoyed my time. I feel I’ve settled in really well with the players and the staff,” O’Donnell told the Daily Record.

“Obviously, I stay locally so it’s nearly perfect in that sense, but it needs to fit everyone’s agenda. I’m hoping to get to the Euros in the summer and you can’t make decisions based on that because you don’t know what’s around the corner.

“But I just want to keep working hard and hopefully there will be conversations with my agent, the club and other clubs, if interested, then I’ll see what I think is best for myself moving forward.

“It’s a time you can maybe be a bit more selfish, but in the short term I’m only interested in one thing – and that’s working my backside off for Motherwell.”

O’Donnell already has a signed Stoke shirt in his collection.

He told Football.Scotland: “We drew with Stoke City in the cup (in 2015), losing on penalties, and that was a cool experience, as they had Bojan and Arnautovic at the time and were in the Premier League. And I scored my penalty.

“I got Shay Given’s top after the game. My dad’s Irish so I knew he’d like it. I’m getting that framed just now.

“After the manager left, Nathan Jones came in. On paper, he had everything I’d want in a manager (communication, syle of play etc), so it’s one of my biggest regrets that it didn’t really take off. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen for you and that was the case then.

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“I never really nailed down the number two shirt and there was a falling out. I informed him I was due to get another year if I played one more game, but I didn’t want that to happen. I was devastated when I didn’t play in the semi-finals of the play-offs.

“It was a disappointing end to my Luton career in the summer of 2017, the same summer I got married. I understand the value of money but it isn’t what motivates me, so I was happy to move on without an extra £50K or whatever.”





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