Michael O’Neill has his say on fierce fight to be Stoke City number one



Michael O’Neill says no decision has yet been made with regards to who will start the new season as Stoke City’s number one.

The Potters boss is still weighing up which of the three senior goalkeepers at his disposal will be handed a starting role for the opening day encounter with Reading next weekend.

Despite the summer arrival of Jack Bonham from Gillingham it appears to be a straight race between England youth international Joe Bursik and Welsh stopper Adam Davies.

Bursik enjoyed an unexpected rise to prominence last season after a succession of injuries left O’Neill with no option other than to recall the youngster from a loan spell with Doncaster Rovers in mid-November.

After conceding three times in each of his first two outings for the club, Bursik went on to play a starring role as he kept seven clean sheets in his next eight games, with only Cardiff City managing to breach his net during that run.

Following Angus Gunn’s return to fitness, he eventually dislodged the talented young stopper before Davies, who had overcome injury troubles of his own, was reinstated soon after to re-establish himself as first choice.

“We are really strong in terms of our stable of goalkeepers,” the former Northern Ireland manager said.

“We have brought Jack into the club this summer and allowed young Blondy (Nna Noekeu) to go out and continue his development on loan with Crawley Town.

“We also have an experienced international here in Adam Davies and another talented young keeper in Joe Bursik, both of whom were very good for us last season.

“Joe is firmly in my mind and is most definitely a contender to start the season, especially after the way he acquitted himself for us last year in a real time of need.

“He most definitely won’t be going back out on loan this season, he is here by right now and is fighting for that jersey, along with Adam and Jack.”

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