Stoke City boss explains summer plan for January signing

Million Manhoef received a standing ovation for his performance in Stoke City's final day win over Bristol City.
Million Manhoef received a standing ovation for his performance in Stoke City's final day win over Bristol City. -Credit:Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Million Manhoef has been given a summer programme to make sure he builds on the way he finished the season at Stoke City.

The 22-year-old right winger, who joined from Vitesse Arnhem at the end of the January transfer window, scored four in Stoke’s last three home matches and was dynamic in a vital away win at Southampton too. He has spoken openly about the lessons he has learned in the Championship and what he needs to do to win more duels.

And head coach Steven Schumacher knows the next couple of months is crucial in doing the groundwork that will help him be consistent through next term.

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Schumacher said: “Million is getting stronger each game. He’s ended the season with loads of confidence. He needs to go away in the summer now, rest and recover and then come back in a real good physical state because he needs to be able to produce that Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday whenever the fixtures come. It’s relentless in this league, a lot more than he’s used to in the Dutch league. Hopefully he has a good off season and we can see the best of him next year.”

Luke Cundle has also ended the campaign in his best form, influential in the final three games in particular which pulled Stoke out of danger and up to a 17th place finish.

The midfielder, also 22, is returning to Wolves now to decide what is the best next move in his career. He and right-back Ki-Jana Hoever, also from Wolves, were being watched in person by Wolves loan manager Steve Davis in Saturday’s win over Bristol City.

Schumacher said: “He’s a good footballer, Cunds. He plays with loads of energy and he’s dead enthusiastic. He’s infectious, a bit like Bae Junho is and like Million too when he plays. He gets people off their seats and that’s what you want.

“I want to watch exciting players and Luke has shown, I think since the Hull game when we brought him back in, the qualities that he’s got.

“The games and the style of the games and better pitches and all that have suited him and to play alongside Bae Junho and Enda (Stevens) on that side, the three of them have been outstanding.”

Stoke are in talks with Stevens about extending his contract. The 33-year-old left-back has been frustrated by injuries in his first year at Stoke but the way he ended the season was instrumental in the Potters’ hauling themselves up the table.

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