After securing a 2-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers earlier this month, Stoke City would have been aiming to back-up this result during their clash with Middlesbrough on Saturday.
However, the Potters instead delivered an underwhelming display at the Riverside Stadium as they succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to the Smoggies.
Currently 11th in the Championship, Stoke could climb above Millwall in the standings tomorrow night if they secure a positive result against Cardiff City.
Whereas the Potters are facing another year in the second-tier, the Bluebirds are pushing for a place in the play-offs and thus will be determined to pick up all three points.
Despite the fact that the transfer window is not set to open until after the culmination of the 2020/21 campaign, the future of one of Stoke's prospects may be influenced by Manchester United's decision to appoint Darren Fletcher as their first ever technical director in what is a big change for the Premier League side.
According to page 59 of yesterday's print edition of the Sunday Sun, the former Potters midfielder is set to play a role in the Red Devils' transfer recruitment and is thought to be an admirer of Nathan Collins having played alongside the defender during his time at the club.
The 19-year-old, whose current deal at the Bet365 Stadium runs until 2024, has made 27 appearances in all competitions for the Potters this season.
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
Whilst there is no guarantee that Collins will be able to make a return to top-form when he eventually recovers from a foot injury that he suffered last month, Stoke ought to be concerned by Fletcher's admiration in the defender.
Currently averaging a relatively impressive WhoScored match rating of 6.82, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has also produced the third-highest number of blocks per game for Stoke (0.6) and the sixth-highest number of interceptions (1.2).
Given that Collins is clearly capable of making a tangible impact at Championship level already despite a lack of experience, losing him could spell trouble for the Potters.
However, if the Red Devils do indeed opt to swoop for Collins based on Fletcher's opinion, Stoke may struggle to keep him at the club as the temptation to join a major Premier League side could be a deciding factor for the defender.
Therefore, the Potters ought to line-up a list of potential replacements for the teenager ahead of the summer transfer window as a failure to do so could have a negative impact on their performances next season.News Now - Sport News