On Tuesday evening it was announced that Gary Rowett had been appointed as the new manager of Stoke City.
The 44-year-old has been tasked with building a team capable of making an immediate return to the Premier League and his first task will be to overhaul the playing squad during the summer.
Rowett will be handed a sizeable transfer kitty, which will be increased further through player sales, and the Potters will be expected to make a significant impact in the transfer market either side of the World Cup. Stoke supporters will be waiting with eager anticipation to see who their new manager attracts to the club and it is certain that a new-look team will line up for the first game of the season.
However, Stoke have a number of highly rated young players on their books and Rowett may also choose to look within the club’s academy in an attempt to provide some fresh energy and youthful exuberance.
Here, The Boot Room all highlights four young players that Rowett may look to include in his plans for the new season.
Having been born and raised in Stafford, Edwards became the first local player in almost a decade to make a first-team appearance for Stoke when he was handed his debut against Manchester City in October 2017.
The 19-year-old has been at the club since the age of eight and his undoubted potential has been no secret. The defender was voted as the under-18’s Player of the Year in both of the previous two seasons whilst playing a key role in the team’s run to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup last year.
Edwards made seven starts for the first team over the Christmas period and emerged as Mark Hughes’ first choice right back. His performances, at a difficult time for the club, were hugely impressive and were characterised by calmness under pressure, robustness in his defensive play and overlapping runs.
The arrival of Paul Lambert in January saw Edwards return to the academy side as the Scotsman elected to place his faith and trust in experience rather than youth.
However, Edwards has already demonstrated that he is capable of playing first team football and he will be hoping that Rowett will reinstate him into first-team proceedings.
The 20-year-old is one of Stoke’s most highly rated young forwards and has been on the periphery of the first team squad for the last two seasons.
He joined the club in the summer of 2014, electing to move to the Bet365 Stadium over a host of top-flight European clubs, and emerged as a dominant force academy football whilst also becoming a central figure for the Belgian young international sides.
Ngoy was handed his debut as a late substitute against Arsenal in December 2016 and made five further appearances over the subsequent twelve months. He spent the second half of the current campaign on loan at League One side Walsall, scoring three goals in thirteen games and helping the Saddlers to avoid relegation.
The Belgian is powerful, strong and pacey whilst also having an acute instinct in front of goal. Having already experienced the Premier League and life as a first-team regular at Walsall, now may be the time for Ngoy to make his breakthrough at Stoke.
Another Belgian youth international, Verlinden joined Stoke in the summer of 2016 having risen through the ranks at Standard Liege.
The 18-year-old is highly thought of at the Bet365 Stadium and his speed, agility and low centre of gravity combined with his technical brilliance makes him one to look out for in the future. Furthermore, the diminutive winger has already been around the periphery of the Stoke first team squad and has been named as a substitute on multiple occasions.
Verlinden has spent the current campaign on loan with FC St. Pauli but has made a minimal impact in Germany and has only made a handful of appearances for the club’s reserve team.
However, the fresh start at Stoke under the stewardship of Rowett may be just what the Belgian needs to kick-start his professional career.
Campbell began his football career with Manchester City’s academy but chose to turn down a professional contract with the club in the summer of 2016 in order to sign for Stoke. The Potters were ultimately ordered to pay £1.75 million for his services by a tribunal.
However, the 18-year-old has been the star of Stoke’s academy structure during the previous two years and, even at this early stage, he appears to be worth every penny of that fee.
Campbell was a prolific for the under-18’s team last season, with his goals firing the side into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup, whilst he finished the current campaign as the top goal scorer in Premier League 2. His 18 strikes saw him shortlisted for the Premier League 2 Player of the Season award.
The 18-year-old was handed his first-team debut in February 2018 against Leicester City and subsequently made three further substitute appearances prior to the end of the campaign.
Campbell has emerged as one of the most prolific young forwards in the country and next season may be the perfect opportunity for him to make his mark in first-team football.