Michael O’Neill could be forced to do a `Tyrese Campbell’ on defender Nathan Collins – and sooner than he wanted – if reported interest in Nathan Collins is true.
Then, with Rangers and Celtic hovering around the striker, O’Neill was able to persuade Campbell to sign a new contract by convincing him he would enjoy serious game time at Stoke.
Collins has a long-term contract already signed, but no doubt with the odd escape clause included, and so O’Neill might now have to persuade the young Irishman that he too will enjoy more minutes in the first team than he has so far enjoyed under the new boss.
O’Neill has used Collins sparingly so far, perhaps understandably given Stoke’s predicament, after bringing him off the bench to shore up his defence in the latter stages of four league games, while starting him in a fifth at Blackburn when James Chester was rested.
Explaining his position re Collins back on February 21, O’Neill stated: “Nathan is a very young player, he’s 18 years of age
“He has enormous potential and we have to be mindful of when we bring him into the team.
“He’s in the 18 most weeks and when he’s come on in games he’s come on late and given us his height and his stature in terms of defending balls into the box.
“But we have to be mindful of where he is and it would be asking a lot, possibly, of Nathan to come in and play at this minute in time”.
Convincing him his future does lie at Stoke, particularly if people are whispering in his ear and planting stories in the media, could require O’Neill to pledge more faith in Collins sooner rather than later.
And that, in turn, could have repercussions for the decision on whether or not to keep Chester.