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Injuries again risk derailing Stoke's flying start - Interview
Thursday, 2nd Dec 2021 16:03 by Clive Whittingham

Serious injuries to a host of key players blew Stoke's 2020/21 up around this time last year, and as Harvey Todd from Six Towns Sport tells us it's at risk of happening all over again with Nick Powell and Harry Souttar among the crocks this time.

How's the season gone so far?

Started incredibly, we were playing some great football. Recently the squad has been really stretched through suspensions and injuries which has seen Josh Tymon (our primary left wing back) playing in midfield.

Stoke league results thus far…
Stoke 3-2 Reading Powell 25, Brown 28, Surridge 85 – Swift 26, Moore 60
Birmingham 0-0 Stoke
Swansea 1-3 Stoke Piroe 73 – Powell 15, Clucas 53, Ostigard 60
Stoke 1-0 Forest Tymon 66
Fulham 3-0 Stoke Wilson 5, Reid 53, Mitrovic 72
Stoke 2-1 Huddersfield Brown 50, Pearson og 63 – Toffolo 47
Stoke 1-1 Barnsley Surridge 17 – Woodrow 38
Derby 2-1 Stoke Bird 31, Davies 34 – Ince 58
Stoke 2-0 Hull Vrancic 35, Powell 58
Preston 1-1 Stoke Whiteman 38 – Powell 6
Stoke 1-0 West Brom Powell 79
Sheff Utd 2-1 Stoke Mousset 80, McGoldrick 83 – Brown 55
Stoke 0-1 Bournemouth Solanke 51
Millwall 2-1 Stoke Bradshaw 51, 61 – Sawyers 21
Stoke 3-3 Cardiff Brown 9, Fletcher 16, 46 – Colwill 66, Harris 70, Moore 71
Blackpool 0-1 Stoke Fletcher 79
Luton 0-1 Stoke Brown 34
Stoke 2-0 Peterborough Vrancic 3, Campbell 90
Bristol City 1-0 Stoke Bakinson 36
Stoke 0-1 Blackburn Khadra 52

How's Michael O'Neill done?
He’s done ok, he still makes substitutions too late in games (it’s always around 65’) which sometimes is too late as seen on Saturday against Blackburn. I’m a big fan of the 3-5-2 we’re playing, however with the injuries we have it’s not as effective as it was early doors.

Form seems to have tailed off a little of late, any reasons?
I hate using the injuries excuse but losing Nick Powell and Harry Souttar a handful of weeks apart has killed us.

How was the summer business? What needs doing in January? Any early rumours?

Some signings have done better than others, but the best one was Mario Vrancic on a free - signing of the season. I tend to ignore January rumours around this time of year, but John Souttar from Hearts (older brother of Harry) is the only one that’ve seen floating around.

Ins >>> Sam Surridge, 23, ST, Bournemouth, £2.6m >>> Ben Wilmot, 21, CB, Watford, £1.9m >>> Mario Vrancic, 32, CM, Norwich, Free >>> Jack Bonham, 27, GK, Gillingham, Free >>> Abdallah Sima, 20, RW, Brighton, Loan Leo Ostigard, 21, CB, Brighton, Loan >>> Romaine Sawyers, 29, CM, West Brom, Loan

Outs >>> Nathan Collins, 20, CB, Burnley, £12.6m >>> Bruno Martins Indi, 29, CB, AZ Alkmaar, Undisclosed >>> Liam Lindsay, 25, CB, Preston, Undisclosed >>> Lasse Sorensen, 21, CM, Lincoln, Undisclosed >>> Badou Ndiaye, 29, CM, Aris Saloniki, Undisclosed >>> Kevin Wimmer, 28, CB, Rapid Vienna, Free >>> Jordan Cousins, 27, CM, Wigan, Free >>> Ryan Woods, 27, CM, Birmingham, Free >>> Moritz Bauer, 29, RB, UFA (Russia), Free >>> John Obi Mikel, 34, CM, Kuwait SC, Free >>> Sam Vokes, 31, CF, Wycombe, Free >>> Benik Afobe, 28, CF, Millwall, Loan >>> Peter Etebo, 25, CM, Watford, Loan >>> Blondy Nna Noukeu, 19, GK, Crawley, Loan

Best players and weak links in the team?
Our one to watch is Vrancic, dangerous set piece deliveries and isn’t afraid to shoot from range. Such a silky and graceful player and really is fun to watch. The biggest weak links is probably James Chester, he’s looked really suspect at times defensively.

Revised expectations for the season?

I think playoffs is still achievable, every team has a bumpy patch and we’re going through ours. Once Tyrese Campbell hits form, Powell returns and a handful of additions in January I think it all looks up.

Links >>> Stoke City official website >>> Stoke Sentinel – Local press >>> The Oatcake – Message Board >>> The Wizards of Drivel – Podcast

The Twitter @loftforwords, @HarveySCFC_

Pictures – Action Images

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062259 added 18:22 - Dec 2
QPR will go 7 points clear of 7th place with a win. Is there such a thing as a mid-season play-off-place six-pointer?

TacticalR added 13:57 - Dec 3
Thanks to Harvey.

Despite losing the last two games, Stoke are still one of the form sides in the division.

We will have to keep an eye on free kick specialist Vrančić.

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