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Stoke City transfer state of play as Championship clubs brace for step up in activity

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Stoke City are having to be a little bit more patient than they would probably like in the transfer market as Premier League clubs hold onto players until internationals return from the European Championships and Copa America.

Stoke – in their first summer window under Jon Walters and Steven Schumacher and with Lee Darnbrough joining as new head of recruitment – made an encouraging start with additions in three key areas at the top of their hit list: goalkeeper Viktor Johansson, centre-half Ben Gibson and left-back Eric Bocat.

But business has been fairly slow across the Championship over the last week or so as clubs returned for pre-season training. Stoke have their first warm-up game tomorrow night at Chester (7.45pm) before flying out for a week-long camp in Cork at the weekend.

Negotiations should speed up after this weekend and beyond as top flight squads are boosted in numbers and managers can afford to loosen their grip on young players and fringe men who will be within the reach of Stoke and their rivals. Stoke are expected to be shopping in that market for a new centre-forward following the release of Tyrese Campbell and Wesley.

 

Walters and Schumacher have both been adamant, too, about not wanting to crowd their changing room. Schumacher had to manage about 30 senior players in the second half of last season and there is a desire to bring that number down to something nearer 22. That will inevitably mean players leaving to accommodate new signings over the next month-and-a-half.

Inquiries have started coming in for players, and speculation continues over interest in captain Josh Laurent, who has now been linked with Gaziantep in Turkey, Paphos in Cyprus and clubs in the Championship.

 

Stoke are not short of numbers in central midfield but it still seems like a department in flux, particularly after it emerged that Ben Pearson would be ruled out for about four months as he recovers from hamstring surgery. Sol Sidibe will step up but Luke Cundle returned to parent club Wolves after his loan spell and Lewis Baker and Daniel Johnson didn’t feature much or at all towards the end of last season.

Former Stoke loanees Liam Delap and Jaden Philogene are both closing in on moves to the Premier League. Delap, aged 21, looks to be on his way to Ipswich Town for an initial £15m after choosing them over Southampton following an impressive season on loan at Hull from Manchester City.

Ipswich also want Philogene, who was close to returning to Stoke last summer from Aston Villa before sealing a £5m move to Hull. The 22-year-old winger is expected to join Ipswich too for a fee of about £16m, having also been linked with Everton and Crystal Palace.

 

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