‘The bottom line’ – Michael O’Neill on the Stoke City players wanted on loan



Michael O’Neill says he is glad to have been given things to think about, good or bad, as he weighs up what to do with Stoke City players who are wanted on loan.

O’Neill fielded a young side made up of players who hadn’t featured as much in the re-start as they began their pre-season campaign today with a 1-0 win over Linfield.

Josh Tymon got the goal while there were first run outs since returning from loan spells for Benik Afobe and Harry Souttar, alongside Academy graduates Tom Edwards, Nathan Collins and Lasse Sorensen, as well as 20-year-old January signing Tashan Oakley-Boothe.

“Some gave us something to think about and the good thing about this is that, good or bad, it helps you make a decision on younger players,” said O’Neill in an interview for the club website.

“I thought some of them should have done better against this level of opposition. They’re playing against a team where some of the players are part-time, for example, or maybe been in England and not made the grade there for one reason or another.

“It was a good gauge for where our players are as well. We’ve had lads who have been out on loan coming back and we’ve got lads who clubs want on loan as well so we have to think about that.

“I think the young players have been great since we’ve been able to get them around the squad but the bottom line is that they’re not affecting the team enough. Tyrese has affected the team, Nathan has to an extent – but they need to affect the starting XI now.

“That’s where we need to see a wee bit more.”

It was Stoke’s first friendly of a unique pre-season, with most players still near enough fresh from the congested run-in of 2019/20.

O’Neill added: “We got a lot from the game. We knew it would be competitive because Linfield are preparing for a Champions League game on Tuesday against Legia Warsaw.

“The disappointing thing was that we could have been a bit slicker in our play at times and a little bit more clinical in the final third.

“We’ve things in our play that we’ve consistently worked on since we came into the club. We played a 4-3-3 which is what we played for the most part last season so there were aspects of that which were good and aspects which could have been better to be honest.”





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