Stoke City to unveil new signing to get ‘a little bit of breathing space’



Stoke City are expected to wrap up a deal for Niki Maenpaa.

The 35-year-old left Bristol City at the end of last season and is top of the list of available free agents as Michael O’Neill deals with the loss of Adam Davies and Angus Gunn to injury – and even if they are out for four, five or six weeks, that means a lot of matches thanks to an unforgiving fixture list.

Joe Bursik, aged 20, has been recalled from a loan spell at Doncaster Rovers to play the last two games, including last night’s 3-2 defeat to Norwich, with Blondy Nna Noukeu, aged 19, on the bench.

Bursik didn’t have much of a chance with any of three well-taken goals and was otherwise quick off his line, vocal and sound with his kicking.

O’Neill said: “We’re bringing another goalkeeper because we have two very young goalkeepers. I felt for Joe tonight because he didn’t have any chance with any of the goals, he was a little bit exposed.

“We have to have a little bit of breathing space while we don’t know when Adam and Angus are going to come back.”

There is a scouting report here on Maenpaa from our colleagues in Bristol.

BristolLive sports editor James Piercy said: “It’s a bit boring in a way but he’s just a really solid keeper; a 7/10-er across the board.

“Makes some fine stops, is good one-on-one, has that awareness of his area, will organise his defence and possesses strong handling and all the fundamentals.”

Steven Fletcher injury update

Stoke’s summer signing is a doubt for the return to his former club Sheffield Wednesday this weekend.

Fletcher has been a big hit at Stoke since swapping Hillsborough for the Potteries as a free agent, linking up with Tyrese Campbell and Nick Powell in one of the Championship’s most dangerous attacks.

But he was forced off before half-time at the bet365 Stadium last night.

You can read the full update here.

Michael O’Neill on referee, disallowed goal and conceding too many

Michael O’Neill was looking at Stoke City’s own performance rather than pointing the finger at the referee as a three-goal comeback was denied against Norwich.

Stoke were 3-0 down to the Championship leaders just before the hour mark last night – but after Emiliano Buendia was sent off for two cautions, Stoke ultimately thought they could wrestle at least a point from the game.

Tyrese Campbell and Nathan Collins brought it back to 3-2 before Lee Gregory poked in from close range – only for referee Geoff Eltringham to claim Gregory had blocked keeper Michael McGovern unfairly.

O’Neill said: “Look, we didn’t lose the game because of the referee but it wasn’t a brilliant performance from him. It was a difficult game to referee but I thought some of the decisions were… certainly not in our favour.”

You can read the full interview here.

Last night’s player ratings

Too harsh or too generous?

You can decide here.





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