Michael O’Neill is putting the focus on quality rather than quantity as he heads into his second summer transfer window as Stoke City manager.
Stoke currently have 10 senior players out on loan due to return who they would like to re-home while Financial Fair Play presents a big challenge in itself.
But there is also a need to improve a squad which has been struck by injuries in the past few months.
O’Neill said in his pre-match press conference: “We have 32 players under contract from July 1 with the players who have been away from the club returning. We have to continue to address that as we have done in previous windows.
“We know we’re not going to make massive changes to the squad because we’ll be somewhat hindered by that but we will hopefully add key players in the right areas to hopefully help us.
“We have to streamline the squad first of all to give us the best chance of getting the best players in to help us improve.”
And the links have started to grow.
Whispers grow of Stoke interest in 33-goal striker
Stoke City have emerged as potential suitors of Peterborough’s 33-goal striker Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Whispers are growing that Stoke are among the clubs who are ready to target the 26-year-old, who has just been named League One player of the year after helping win promotion.
He fits the bill in terms of what Michael O’Neill wants to add to his squad – a mobile, hungry, all-round forward at the right age – but Financial Fair Play obviously presents a major stumbling block.
Clarke-Harris is also being linked with Swansea, Cardiff City and Rangers and is likely to fetch £7m or £8m this summer, with former club Bristol Rovers holding a 20 per cent sell on clause.
It would not be a bad return for a player who cost Posh £1.25m last year – when he had a year left on his contract at Rovers – as a replacement for Brentford-bound Ivan Toney.
Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony has still suggested that it would be a bargain.
Stoke City-linked midfielder’s summer departure confirmed
Corry Evans will leave Blackburn Rovers this summer, Tony Mowbray has confirmed.
The 30-year-old midfielder has been on the fringes at Ewood Park this season but was a favourite for Michael O’Neill during his time in charge at Northern Ireland.
Evans was unsurprisingly linked with Stoke almost as soon as O’Neill took over, having earned 59 caps and plenty of songs of praise from his manager.
But he has also suffered from injuries which have made sure he has not made more appearances over the last eight years at club level.
Mike Pejic: My blood is boiling to hear about tired players
This week’s column from Mike Pejic.
“I’ve been working up on Buxton Moors two and a half weeks, helping my friends Ben and Edna with the lambing.
“I do shifts but their working week is 80 to 90 hours. They’re covered in bumps and bruises with sheep smashing into them and they don’t wear shinpads. Morning til night, two days without sleep, they’re shattered but they keep going because they have to.
“Their bonus at the end of it all is not hundreds or thousands. A shearing wool fleece is 80p, a swale fleece is 15p.
“So forgive me for my blood boiling when I see players being indulged for having no energy at the end of a tough season, players apparently running on empty…”
Ex-Stoke City stalwart confirms next move
Former Stoke City utility man Geoff Cameron is to end a three-year stay at Queens Park Rangers and return to the United States.
Cameron, now aged 35, has been club captain at Loftus Road this season and remained a key figure in Mark Warburton’s squad, making 34 appearances.
But he is now ready to head back over the Atlantic for the next stage of his career.