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Fifteen Stoke Targets For A Top Half Fin
With Stokes Premier League status secured for another year, Id like to take a look at the players I would like to see us sign in an attempt to kick on next season, and hopefully turn this seasons fantastic lower mid-table finish into something even higher and more commendable. With our survival, we have become a more stable Premier League club, and there are a number of players to whom Stoke on Trent will now seem a more attractive destination, and with Chairman Peter Coates promising that all the profits from our survival will be put into the transfer kitty, Im very hopeful well see a number of high quality players joining the club over the next few months. If you agree or disagree with my selections, or with suggestions as to further potential targets, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page.Goalkeepers After joining Stoke on a free transfer last summer, Thomas Martin Kaut Men Jersey Srensen has performed brilliantly this season, and with two years left on his existing contract, the Dane seems nailed on to keep the number one spot next year. After being dislodged by Srensen, however, after four years as first choice keeper, in seems po sible that Steve Simonsen may look to move away from the club this summer in a bid to play more regular first team football. He has just one year left on his contract, so maybe the club will seek to cash in on him, to avoid losing him for nothing in 2010. If this is the case, well need to bring in a new reserve goalkeeper. You can never quite be sure with what youre getting when signing a keeper from abroad, and with Tony Pulis clearly preferring players proven in England, its most likely that this player would be English. The one keeper Id really like to see us sign is Peterboroughs Joe Lewis. At just 21, hes already proving himself to be a very good goalkeeper, having been instrumental in the Poshs promotion winning side this season, and has even had an England call-up, being an unused substitute for the friendly games against the USA and Trinidad and Tobago last year. I feel hes a player that is certainly good enough to play at the top level, though he may still be a little raw Matt Nieto Men Jersey for the Premier League. Thats why hed be a good target as an understudy for Srensen, before taking the number one position when Srensen, wholl be 33 next month, retires.Lewis, an up and coming goalkeeper Id love to see at Stoke Another keeper I rate highly is Keiren Westwood who currentlyplays in the Championship for Coventry. Hes widely renowned as one of the best English keepers outside the Premier League and is definitely capable of stepping up. At 24 though, and used to being a big fish at the Ricoh Arena, hed probably be unhappy to play second fiddle to Srensen, and likely to cost several million pounds, it would be hard to justify that expenditure. An outside shout for a goalkeeper in Dean Kiely. Now at West Brom, who look very likely to go down this season, hes out of contract in the summer and Sampo Ranta Men Jersey may well leave the club. At 38, he has bags of Premier League experience, as well as a number of Republic of Ireland caps, and would provide a dependable back-up keeper, with the benefit of no transfer fee having to be paid.Defenders This season, Abdoulaye Faye and Ryan Shawcro s have been superb as the first choice centre-back pairing for Stoke, and with Shawcro s still only 21, and Faye recently saying hed like toremain at the club for the rest of his career,it seems those two will be around at the back for a while yet. Decently deputised in the position by Ibrahima Sonko and Leon Cort, and with youngser Ryan Shotton potentially pushing for more first team involvement, having recently returned from a very succe sful loan spell at Tranmere, I dont believe it is nece sary for us to seek to strengthen in the centre-back position. The full-backs are a different matter though. Ive never beena big fan of Danny Higginbotham, particularly at left-back. I feel he lacks composure, is prone to simply hoofing the ball, and doesnt support his winger going forward well enough. A left-back I am a big fan of is Wolvess George Elokobi. Hes only 23, and despite being out injured for a large part of this season, is held in high regard at Molyneux. Hes athletic, extremely strong and West African, having Cameroonian parents, so would seem to tick all the boxes that we tend to look for in new recruits and is a player Im sure could impre s at top flight level.Facing Abdoulaye Faye and George Elokobi would be a terrifying prospect for opposing forwardsAndy Wilkinson has been hugely impre sive for us at right-back this season, and I would be very happy to see him retain the position next season. We lackdepthin the positionthough, with the blackballed Andy Griffin, the on-loan Stephen Kelly and the injury-prone Andrew Davies providing slightly shaky cover. Id certainly be looking to add another right-back to the squad, with my first choice being Habib Beye of Newcastle. In his two years at the Magpies hes proven his cla s, and with 35 Senegalese caps might be enticed by the prospect of joining his numerous international teammates at Stoke. out of contract next year and now in his thirties, Newcastle might seriously consider a bid of Paul Kariya Men Jersey around 3 million, particularly if they are relegated this year. Tony Pulis isnt famous for liking young players, but one youthful right-back Id like to see us sign is Sheffield Uniteds Kyle Naughton. At twenty, his had an excellent first full season for the Yorkshire club and is surely of Premier League cla s. With a couple of England Under 21 caps, hes been tipped for a move up, and may soon make it, especially if the Blades arent promoted this season.Could Naughton switch to the red and white of Stoke?Midfielders For me, our midfield has been a little lifele s at times this season. With Salif Diao, Rory Delap and Amdy Kevin Connauton Kids Jersey Faye, all regulars, all in the twilight of their careers, and Diao out of contract this summer, it seems clear than new blood is needed. My numer one target, the first foreign based player on my list, would be the Cameroonian Modeste Mbami, who currently plies his trade at French champions elect Marseille. Hes a small, quick central-midfielder,who likes to get forward, and would addsomething different toour side.Hes 26, about the age most promising players from foreign leagues tend to get a move to England, and for perhaps 5 million, he could be tempted to Stoke. Another French based midfielder Id like to see us sign is FC Nantess Guirane NDaw, whos another weve been linked with before. Aged 24, hes lively and versitile, and can play in the centre of

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