May 16, 2017
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Stoke round-up: Hughes future latest; captain to be offered new contract, latest departures and transfer rumours

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The Sentinel are reporting that Stoke City’s hierarchy have no plans to change the managerial set-up at the club over the summer and that Mark Hughes’ job is not under threat.

Hughes successfully guided The Potters to three consecutive top-half finishes in the top flight for the first time in 80 years during his first trio of campaigns but has come under pressure from supporters following a dramatic dip in form.

Saturday’s four goal defeat against Arsenal means that Stoke have won just once in their last 10 fixtures and could finish as low as 16th in the league table if they are beaten by Southampton on the final weekend of the season. Some sections of the club’s fan base claim that the club has regressed over the last twelve months and have been calling for a change in manager.

The Sentinel claim that Stoke’s hierarchy are aware of the disquiet among supporters but have no intention of sacking Hughes. The Welshman will be given the summer to demonstrate his experience and pedigree as he instigates a rebuilding of the first team squad and there is a feeling amongst the club’s top brass that Hughes has earned more time based on his first three seasons.

Speaking to The Sentinel Peter Coates admitted that the season had not gone to plan but called for supporters to have some perspective:

“I am disappointed and I understand when our fans are disappointed too. I thought we would do better this season and we will finish lower than I had hoped. But let’s not forget we are currently just four points off eighth place so we do need a bit of perspective.”

“There is a glut of clubs in there who, like us, would have been hoping for a better season. The other perspective we should keep is remembering the league we are playing in. It is the hardest in the world. We will be setting out to improve our squad this summer. We want to start next season better than we are finishing this one.”

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Mark Hughes has confirmed that Stoke City captain Ryan Shawcross will be offered a new contract and that he is confident that the 29-year-old will extend his stay in The Potteries.

Shawcross signed for Stoke in the summer of 2008 following a successful season-long loan from Manchester United the previous year and has been the defensive heart of the club for almost a decade. However, the central defender is set to enter into the final year of his contract and there have been reports that Newcastle United are set to make a bid at the end of the campaign and are keen to tempt the one-time England international to the North East.

Hughes told Sky Sports that the club have no intention of selling their captain and that Shawcross will be offered a new contract in due course:

“There’s not an issue, not from our point of view. We certainly want to keep Ryan here if we can. We don’t usually enter into negotiations until there are 12 months to go.”

The Daily Mail are reporting that Phil Bardsley is set to depart the Bet365 Stadium in the summer as Mark Hughes prepares to overhaul his first team squad.

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The 31-year-old defender has spent three years in North Staffordshire and has made in excess of 50 appearances for Stoke City since signing in the summer of 2014. However, Bardsley has failed to hold down a regular place in The Potters’ starting eleven over the last two campaigns following the arrival of Glen Johnson and it appears that the club will not be putting forward a contract extension when the player’s current deal expires at the end of the season.

A host of clubs are rumoured to be interested in securing the versatile defenders signature and his extensive experience – having played over 200 games in the top flight – will attract the attention of clubs from both The Championship and Premier League. Newcastle United and Brighton have both been identified as potential destinations whilst Reading, Hull City and Sunderland are also possibilities if Bardsley is willing to drop down a division in search of regular game time.

The Sentinel have confirmed that Shay Given will leave Stoke City when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 41-year-old signed for The Potters in the summer of 2015 to provide cover for Jack Butland following the departures of Asmir Begovic and Thomas Sorensen but has only made a handful of appearances for the club in two seasons. He became Stoke’s oldest ever league debutant at the age of 39 year and 364 days before subsequently becoming the first player since Sir Stanley Matthews to represent the club beyond the age of 40.

Jack Butland’s return from injury coupled with the arrival and superb form showed by Lee Grant this campaign means that Given is surplus to requirements at the Bet365 Stadium as Mark Hughes looks to reshuffle his playing squad. The former Ireland international has yet to confirm whether he will continue his playing career or announce his retirement.

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Mark Hughes has admitted that Giannelli Imbula could be set to leave the Bet365 Stadium in the summer just eighteen months after the midfielder become Stoke City’s record signing.

The Frenchman signed for the club in January 2016 for £18,000,000 from Porto but has struggled to settle into the English game and hold down a place in the starting eleven. This campaign he has made just 12 appearances in the Premier League and has often been omitted entirely from the match day squad.

Hughes has hinted that Imbula is set to depart in the summer, although in reality Stoke will have to take a big financial hit in order to tempt any potential buyers. Speaking to Sky Sports The Welshman explained;

“It’s fair to say it hasn’t quite worked out as any of us would have wanted. It’s fair to say if there was interest in Giannelli from other parties then maybe we’d consider that. Obviously it would have to be suitable for ourselves and the player himself. We haven’t had any interest – only speculation.”

“The Premier League is a different league. He’s struggled with that and he hasn’t developed as much as we – and he – would have liked.”

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Stoke City · Transfer Round-up
Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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