That appears to include Ryan Shawcross. Although the January window is traditionally quieter than its summer cousin, an argument could be made that each of the top five would benefit from strengthening its back-line, and the highly-rated Shawcross – as a young, English centre-back – would certainly fit the bill (although it is probably a safe bet that Arsene Wenger will not be enquiring about him any time soon).
While Shawcross’ central defensive partner Robert Huth recently quashed rumours of a move to Liverpool by declaring his contentment in the Potteries, goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has been much more vague about his intentions should an offer from one of the big boys come in. It was one such offer, from Chelsea in August, that led to an almighty bust up between the Bosnian and Pulis, when Begovic allegedly asked not to play in a Carling Cup encounter with Shrewsbury in light of the Blues’ interest. All parties appear to have put this dissension behind them, with the goalkeeper since establishing himself as Stoke’s No 1 – supplanting Thomas Sorensen with a string of fine displays. It is not hard to imagine the giant Begovic getting itchy feet once more however, should rumoured interest from Arsenal, Tottenham or Chelsea (again) take more concrete shape.
In other departments, the club have stated a willingness to listen to offers for high-profile flop Eidur Gidjohnsen. The Icelandic star is still no closer to forcing his way into the starting line up, and it remains unclear if this is the result of a continuing lack of fitness or if Pulis simply cannot fit him into Stoke’s system. It seems that either way, the Midlanders are prepared to write off £2m invested in the former Barcelona man. Brendan Rogers’ stylish Swansea are rumoured to be interested in bringing Gudjohnsen to the Championship. Another victim of the Potters’ rigid tactics is Tuncay. Like Gudjohnsen, the Turk cannot buy a start for Pulis’ side, and may be rescued from an unhappy stint in ST4 by one of West Ham, Blackburn or Wigan.
Other peripheral figures heading for the exit are Liam Lawrence, a pivotal and popular player during Stoke’s 2007/08 promotion season, who has finally completed his permanent move to Portsmouth, and little-seen Andrew Davies, who is set to return to his native Middlesbrough. Practically invisible since signing in August 2008, the defender sealed his Stoke City fate in criticising the club following a loan move to Walsall in October.
Michael Tonge, Tom Soares and one-time Player of the Season Abdoulaye Faye (whose contract expires in the summer) could also be on their way out, given their lack of first team opportunities this season. Tonge has impressed on loan at struggling Preston in the Championship, but neither hide nor hair has been seen of Soares this term, while Faye, who started 2010 as club captain, ended the year as fourth choice centre-back.
Despite the chairman’s insistence to the contrary, it seems as if the revolving player door could be in full swing at the Britannia Stadium once again this month.