Ryan Woods is a transfer target for Birmingham as Stoke City’s big summer sale continues.
The 27-year-old midfielder has been a fixture in the midfield on loan at Millwall for the past season-and-a-half under Gary Rowett, the manager who signed him for Stoke for £7m back in the summer of 2018.
But Rowett’s wage budget during his Stoke days was more than three times what it is at the Den, and he admitted ‘the numbers would be difficult’ to make the deal permanent while Woods has 12 months left on his contract.
Woods has other admirers in the Championship, however, and it is Birmingham who have emerged at the front of the queue.
Lee Bowyer is looking to add a central midfielder who is strong at keeping possession, and BirminghamLive reports that Woods fits the bill, having become surplus to requirements at Stoke.
Woods, from Norton Canes, had seemed like a big piece of Rowett’s jigsaw when he first arrived, but lost his starting place under Nathan Jones and couldn’t recapture a shirt when Michael O’Neill took charge.
Stoke have made an encouraging start to bringing down the size of O’Neill’s senior squad as Kevin Wimmer has gone to Rapid Wien, Liam Lindsay has signed for Preston and Badou Ndiaye’s wages are being covered until the end of his contract.
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Jordan Cousins has also been released and there is a deal to be done for Bruno Martins Indi, who is wanted by AZ Alkmaar, where he spent last season on loan; and interest in Peter Etebo, who helped Galatasaray qualify for the Champions League.
Lee Gregory also has admirers in the Championship, while Benik Afobe and Tom Ince, who have both had suitors abroad, are hoping for bites.
Moritz Bauer, with two years remaining on a lucrative contract he signed in 2018, may be a more difficult negotiation even if the 29-year-old right-back has been open to moves in Germany and Russia.
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A surprise report linking Sam Vokes with a move to League One Shrewsbury Town is not to be ruled out.
The 31-year-old has endured a frustrating two-and-a-half years since joining Stoke from Burnley and hasn’t scored a league goal since the back-end of 2019/20.
The Wales international needs a run of games in a team set up for his strengths to try to get back on track, but that is unlikely to happen at the bet365 Stadium, where O’Neill is keen to bring in fresh quality and pace over the next few weeks.