Stoke City boss Tony Pulis has admitted that the forthcoming transfer window will mainly be used to trim an excessive squad with midfielders Michael Tonge and Salif Diao thought to be the two most probable departures.
Ex-Sheffield United wideman Tonge has barely featured under Pulis since he arrived at the Britannia in 2008 and has once again been anonymous this term. It is unlikely that any fee will be involved although even that may not be enough to entice any potential suitors. An initial loan deal may be necessary for Tonge to resalvage his shattered reputation and help shift a disillusioned player off their books.
Diao has also struggled to make a sustained impact at Stoke since his free transfer from Liverpool four years ago and has thus far only made Europa Cup appearances this season. Now that the Potters have qualified for the knock-out stages of that tournament – and no longer face the unrelenting schedule of the league format – he is now considered dispensable. The Senegalese battler will be looking to remain in the top flight but an ambitious Championship side is his more likely destination.
Pulis is also looking into the possibility of off-loading expensive flop Kenwyne Jones who arrived with high expectations for a club record £8m 18 months ago but has failed to settle. The Stoke gaffers’ prime – and to our knowledge only – target this January is Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett and any fee they can recoup for Jones will be parlayed into a bid to lure the exciting winger from the doomed Lancashire outfit.
The leading contender for Jones’s signature are QPR who have money to spend and are desperate for a physical presence up front capable of bagging them goals. Should a move for their first choice of Bobby Zamara come to nothing it is widely thought that Neil Warnock will look towards Jones as his alternative.
It should be a rare busy transfer window for Stoke this month though sadly for their fans it will mainly centre around outgoing peripheral personnel rather than any big-name signings.