Michael O’Neill continues to be linked with new forwards at a rate of one-a-day to start the New Year – but one can be crossed off the list almost immediately.
Michael Obafemi, on the fringes at Southampton, was being primed for a loan move to the Championship in the second half of the season.
The bustling 20-year-old was wanted by Swansea but The Sun claimed that Stoke City had joined the race.
But now it’s all off as The Athletic reveal Obafemi suffered a “significant muscle injury” in training and will stay put.
Stoke are keen on a new front man after injuries to Tyrese Campbell (knee), Lee Gregory (groin) and Steven Fletcher (groin).
O’Neill has already been put in the frame for Duncan Watmore, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Jack Clarke and Aston Villa youngster Keinan Davis.
He is expected to bring in Rabbi Matondo on loan from Schalke but has admitted that business will be difficult this month.
“We’ve been working away and we’ve been working away for a considerable time to look at options,” he said.
“It’s very, very difficult because there aren’t many players available. The Premier League will probably not loan as many players to the Championship as in previous years because of Covid and bigger squads.
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“It is going to be a difficult task to improve what we have in the building but we have to make sure we do everything possible.
“I think we need something at the top end of the pitch just to give us a little spark and I believe we can find it.”