Stoke will definitely be in the market for at least one striker this summer as both James Beattie and Dave Kitson are expected to leave following their public fall-outs with boss Tony Pullis.
The Potters are believed to be monitoring West Ham’s Carlton Cole as a potential replacement but are a long way short of being able to meet the Hammers asking price of £15m.
That’s unless they can offload a player for the same amount and my guess is that Ryan Shawcross is the only asset they’ve got worth anything like that kind of dosh. A more realistic option would therefore be Emile Heskey who Villa are reportedly ready to let go for just £2m following his failure to hold down a regular first team place.
Pullis is also set to have another stab at signing Derby forward Rob Hulse after seeing a previous bid for the 30-year-old fall through at the last minute. Stoke had to withdraw their offer in January after James Beattie’s move to Fulham fell through but could now strike a deal with the Rams whereby Michael Tongue moves the other way after spending four months on loan at Pride Park.
Goalkeeper Steve Simonsen has stated that he would like to leave the Britannia Stadium in order to secure first team football. The 31-year-old is currently third choice behind Thomas Sorensen and Asmir Begovic and has played just eight times for the Potters in the top flight.
Midfielder Liam Lawrence is also expected to follow him out the door after falling out of favour with Pullis. The Irish international signed for Stoke in a £500,000 move from Sunderland in January 2007 and is said to be interested in linking up with his former manager at the Stadium of Light – Mick McCarthy – who is, of course, now at Wolves.