Six Stoke City players could say farewell to the bet365 Stadium after Bristol City

Enda Stevens has made an important impact at Stoke City when he has been fit and available.
Enda Stevens has made an important impact at Stoke City when he has been fit and available. -Credit:Gary Oakley/Getty Images

Stoke City will bring down the curtain on what has been a rather intense season this weekend when they host Bristol City.

It is tempting to say that will wave the starting flag on what will be another crucial summer transfer window but the truth is that planning for that started ages ago. Sporting director Jon Walters has been spotted at games up and down the country taking a personal live check on targets and Steven Schumacher has been out and about too, noting recently how much more convenient it is logistically to do that from Stoke than it was down in Plymouth.

One of the key tasks will be to whittle the squad down to a manageable size, looking at about 22 senior players rather than nudging 30. The idea is that would then leave a pathway for young players with high hopes. Sol Sidibe, for example, was making eye-catching cameos early on in this season only to be out of the picture by the time deadline day had come and gone.

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So there will be more departures than there will be arrivals and there will be players who will be waving farewell at full-time on Saturday. They might not be quite certain about their future yet but they and Stoke or their parent club will have to make a decision one way or another over the next three months.


Stoke have only won 14 of their 45 league matches so far but eight out of the 20 when Enda Stevens has been on the pitch.

He’s 33 and had endured a couple of difficult finals seasons with injury at Sheffield United so few can say that they’ve been shocked that he’s not been available for the full term but it’s still such a shame for Stoke that he’s not a decade younger and fitter.

He’s out of contract this summer and if he’s up for putting his body through it again it will be an interesting call for Stoke to make, knowing that they would have to plan accordingly.


Stoke haven’t signed a first choice keeper on a permanent deal since bringing in Thomas Sorensen in 2008. Even Asmir Begovic arrived initially to challenge Sorensen while Jack Butland was sent back out on loan before he made his breakthrough.

But they are expected to change that this summer. Iversen sounds like he would want to come back and play regularly and he’s looked more and more the part as he’s bedded in since January.

It’s probably easier said than done, however, and there are lots of unknowns, including how much Leicester could seriously demand with a year left on his contract. Their starting price last summer left him kicking his heels for six months but perhaps promotion to the Premier League riches will soften their stance.


No one has scored more goals for Stoke than Ki-Jana Hoever since the right-back joined from Wolves on loan in January 2023. It’s eight and counting and he’s ending a challenging season on a high. He’s a different beast when he’s full of confidence and the ceiling of his potential as a player is a hard one to predict. There aren’t many full-backs in the Championship who carry his goal threat but concentration in defending will be the key to where he goes and how quickly.

Stoke have their own young right-back on their books to develop in Junior Tchamadeu. Would Wolves be willing to let Hoever out at a price that could tempt them back or would they have their heads turned at a third loan?

Whatever happens, these past 18 months will have played a big role in Hoever’s development. It’s his first proper taste of men’s football, he’s come through some difficult moments without hiding, scored some important goals and, by all accounts, stood up and passionately said his piece when it came to the crunch in player meetings during the relegation battle.

He’ll get a good reception.


It’s fair to say that most spectators would have written Luke Cundle’s loan off a month ago. Maybe even a couple of weeks ago.

But he played his part in a fine win away at Hull and has then come back in to score a vital equaliser from the bench at Sheffield Wednesday and star in wins over Plymouth and Southampton. That role linking midfield and attack in a team with growing confidence is made for him and it’s no coincidence that it’s helped bring out the best from Million Manhoef and Bae Junho too.

The sounds coming out of Wolves are that they wouldn’t be keen to sell him this summer.Stoke might test that and, in Schumacher, the player – and if it came down to another loan, his parent club – have a coach who he can trust.


Luke McNally (3,112 minutes) might still overtake Michael Rose (3,139 minutes) as the most used Stoke player this campaign.

It’s his first full season playing regularly in the Championship and he has made some important contributions and played with his heart on his sleeve, as well as a couple of times when he probably wanted the ground to swallow him up.

He’ll head back to Burnley next week and his prospects seem limited there. Maybe that will change if and when Burnley are sent packing back to the Championship.

Stoke will be in the market for another centre-half or two this summer. He’s been popular within the changing room and the squad will lose a decent darts player.


Probably the most high profile of the players heading towards the end of their contracts as Stoke’s longest serving first teamer. We’ve covered what might or might not happen next a lot already and whether he’s going or whether he’s staying, his performances over the last three weeks have been important to getting Stoke over the line.


If there is debate about the future of some players, there are others who it would be a surprise to stay when their terms run out.

Ciaran Clark, Wesley, Frank Fielding, Tom Edwards, D’Margio Wright-Phillips and Blondy Nna Noukeu have all barely figured if at all this season. Edwards and Wright-Phillips have been out on loan. Youth midfielder Tom Sparrow has confirmed his departure.

Sead Haksabanovic will also come to the end of his season-long loan from Celtic and although he’s played a role in some important away wins his goal and assists return hasn’t been enough to lock him into a room at Clayton Wood and demand a return.


Jordan Thompson has a 12-month option on his contract and has been a useful and committed player for Schumacher as well as Alex Neil and Michael O’Neill before that.

There are other players who are heading into the final year of their contracts and their agents at least will be starting to think about the longer term future. That group includes captain Josh Laurent and former captain Lewis Baker. Daniel Johnson hasn’t been involved at all recently, Liam McCarron hasn’t been involved at all bar a fleeting FA Cup sub appearance. Michael Rose, Jack Bonham and Lynden Gooch will all be in that boat too.

Who should Stoke try to keep? Have your say in the comments section