Michael O’Neill loves Scotland, his family home is now there, and he loves the Scottish market.
The Stoke manager told us earlier this summer: “It’s about assessing the level of play and then try to benchmark whether those players could step up and play in the Championship.
“There’s players there that have clearly done that, the likes of John McGinn (Aston Villa) and Kenny McClean who went to Norwich, and both of them got promoted with their teams and were very important players to their teams.”
So who have Stoke been linked with north of the border so far?
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Sam Cosgrove – Aberdeen striker, aged 23, is a tall guy who’s had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde season in front of goal after notching 20 goals in 26 appearances before the turn of the year, but then bagging a modest three in 11 in 2020 before the Scottish season was aborted.
Lawrence Shankland – Dundee United striker, 24, has pulled on shirts for both Dundee United and Scotland this past season, netting 29 goals in 35 appearances.
Lydon Dykes – Measuring in at six foot, two, the Livingston front man hit the back of the net a dozen times in 33 appearances last term and has apparently caught the eye of Glasgow Rangers.
Ross Stewart – Ross County striker who is 23 and was linked to Stoke back in December before the story re-surfaced earlier this month with Aberdeen, Hibernian, Middlesbrough and Blackburn also said to be interested.
Do Stoke need a striker? Not as things stand, but with Lee Gregory not a millions miles away from being sold in January, many eyes will be trained in his direction and at a subsequent replacement.
Scott McMann – Hamilton left back turns 24 next month and has established a tidy reputation for himself in Scotland, catching the eye of Wigan and Preston as well as Stoke. Was handed his Hamilton debut by current Preston boss Alex Neill.
Do Stoke need a left back? Yes. It’s been a problem position for some time now and Bruno Martins Indi would be the first to admit he is only a stop gap, while Stephen Ward is out of contract and expected to leave shortly.
Martin Boyle – Hibernian winger, 27, has played for Australia and is also said to be attracting Huddersfield’s attention.
Louis Appere – the 21 year-old Dundee United winger has attracted the attention of Rangers, as well as Stoke, by all accounts and there was certainly plenty of time to watch him last season after playing 33 times.
Do Stoke need a winger? Not as things stand with both Tom Ince and James McClean still on the pay roll, unless they can prise away a youngster to polish up for the Championship.