Stoke City departure confirmed in summer backroom shuffle

Ryan Mmaee limps out of action in what turned out to be his final appearance for Stoke City this season.
Nick Meace helps Ryan Mmaee leave the pitch in April. Physio Meace is now leaving Stoke City. -Credit:Jess Hornby/Getty Images

Stoke City are set to appoint a new physio as Nick Meace leaves after four years.

Meace, a former youth defender on the books of Manchester United and Wigan Athletic, was brought into Clayton Wood in the Michael O'Neill era in November 2020. He replaced long-serving Dave Watson, who departed at the same time as club doctor Andrew Dent.

It is fair to say that Meace has been kept busy with the first team, treating long-term injuries for key men including Tyrese Campbell, Harry Souttar - who gave him a public shout-out for getting him fit for the World Cup with Australia, Nick Powell and Ben Wilmot.

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He wrote in a message on social media: "This year marks 10 years working in professional football and the past four years have been spent working at Stoke City Football Club, my time here has now come to an end.

"I’ve worked with some exceptional talents throughout my career at the highest level, from professional athletes representing their country, to leading medical professionals at the top of their careers. I’m thankful to everyone that’s been a part of my journey thus far.

"Today marks the start of a new chapter for myself. I’m excited to see what opportunities are ahead. For now, I’m spending some quality time with my family. I am open to embark on new challenges as I look to progress my career, please reach out to network and connect"

Souttar was among the players who were quick to wish him well, saying: "Incredible human. All the best my man."

He had said back in Qatar in 2022 after recovering from a pretty catastrophic knee injury in time to play against Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi: “Some days I’ve wanted to kill him because of the things he’s put me through. He’s been there for me in the hard times and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me getting me back fit. There are a load of guys there; Walshy (Paul Walsh), Joel (Dawson). I could thank so many people and the whole backroom staff has been a team thing and they were happy to see me back out there.”

Meace has worked with three Stoke managers, with O'Neill replaced by Alex Neil in August 2022 and Neil replaced by Steven Schumacher in December 2023. Walsh, O'Neill's head of sports science, left on the eve of pre-season last summer and has since joined Bolton Wanderers. Matt Bickley joined from West Brom as head of sports science in November 2023 and Elliot Turner, who worked with Schumacher at Plymouth, arrived as head of performance in January.

Captain Josh Laurent said: "All the best Meacy. Ain't no better out there than you."

Wilmot, Phil Jagielka, Lynden Gooch, Romaine Sawyers, Danny Batth, Sol Sidibe, Joe Bursik, Tyrese Campbell, Josh Tymon, Will Smallbone and Powell also sent their best wishes.

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