Michael O'Neill targets former Northern Ireland U21 midfielder in bid to bolster Stoke panel: report
Michael O'Neill is apparently keen on bringing a former Northern Ireland Under 21 to Stoke City next month.
The Potters remain in the Championship relegation zone but have at least moved off bottom spot since the Northern Ireland manager's appointment last month.
They're now four points ahead of bottom-placed Barnsley, who they beat 4-2 in O'Neill's first game in charge.
Now the boss is reportedly keen to try and pinch one of the basement side's players.
Midfielder Cameron McGeehan made it into the League One Team of the Season as Barnsley won promotion last season and signed a new two-year deal with the club during the summer.
However, the 24-year-old finds himself suddenly out of the loop under new boss Gerhard Struber, playing only 21 minutes in the five games since the Austrian's arrival.
Before that, he had scored against O'Neill's Stoke at the start of November and could now be offered a lifeline at the bet365 Stadium.
According to Football League World, Stoke are ready to rival Cardiff City for his signature ahead of next month's window.
McGeehan made three appearances for Northern Ireland's Under 21s before rejecting a call-up in September 2015 as he considered switching allegiance to his native England.
Nonetheless, he was included in O'Neill's senior panel for the tour of Central America in 2018, ultimately forced to withdraw due to an ankle injury.
Obviously well-known to the manager and at 24 years-old while struggling for game-time, McGeehan could fit the profile of player that O'Neill outlined in his press conference on Friday, as he eyed improvements to his panel in the January transfer window.
"We have a void of players in the 21 to 25 age group, (who) can really drive your team," he said.
"I don’t think we are particularly old, and some of the oldest are the fittest like (James) McClean and (Stehen) Ward, but I would like to get a better age balance eventually.
"Ideally, that’s what we are looking at, but it's easier said than done and we are in a situation where players will have to leave for players to come in.
"January is always a difficult window. It’s very difficult to get somebody out of somebody’s team if they are doing well, so you are possibly looking at those who haven’t had the best first half to a season or younger players at a bigger club."
Stoke host 18th-placed Reading on Saturday knowing a win could lift O'Neill's men above Luton and out of the relegation zone.
Belfast Telegraph Digital