Stoke rue missed transfer targets

  • Last Updated: February 1 2013, 14:54 GMT

Stoke assistant boss Dave Kemp was left disappointed with the Potters' business in the transfer window and admits areas of the squad are a cause for concern.

Dave Kemp: Admits squad is 'unbalanced'
Dave Kemp: Admits squad is 'unbalanced'

The club brought in two players on deadline day, highly-rated England goalkeeper Jack Butland from Birmingham and USA international winger Brek Shea from FC Dallas.

Butland's capture on a four-and-a-half-year deal is a coup, with the 19-year-old opting for Stoke over Chelsea, but he will not be an immediate asset to the Potters as he has headed straight back to Birmingham on loan.

Shea, 22, is also seen as one for the future, partly because he is still recovering from a foot operation, and Kemp admitted Stoke missed out on other targets.

Defenders Matthew Upson and Rory Delap left the club on Thursday for Brighton and Barnsley respectively, leaving the Potters short in defence, especially on the left-hand side.

Kemp said: "We've brought in two excellent young players but they are both for the future.

"To be honest, the squad is unbalanced. We've been aware of that since the summer. We tried to correct it in the last window and didn't manage it, and the plan was to get through to this window and address it and unfortunately we haven't.

"So there is a bit of concern there. And we also let two senior players go out on the preface we were bringing players in, so in some respects you could argue we're a bit weaker than it might appear from the outside.

"A left-back is one - we are short of left-sided players in the club. We let Matty Upson go so there's another one we were hoping to replace.

"In each window, I think the way football's gone now you have to keep freshening the squad up. We didn't do it this time last year, and I felt we suffered for that a bit, we did in the summer window but we've missed the boat again a little bit."

Butland's signing has inevitably led to speculation that Asmir Begovic will be sold in the summer, with the Bosnia international keeper reportedly attracting the attentions of the Premier League's biggest clubs.

But Kemp stressed the opportunity to sign one of England's brightest prospects was simply too good to turn down.

He said: "Jack's obviously one of the biggest up-and-coming goalkeepers in the country. It's a bit of a coup for us to get him to come here and we're delighted with that.

"We have a core of young players here and I think players look at it and see Stoke's a good place to go and improve their career."

The Potters did hold on to strikers Peter Crouch and Kenwyne Jones, who were heavily linked with QPR and Swansea respectively, and the same squad that drew 2-2 with Wigan on Tuesday is likely to travel to Arsenal for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash.

Stoke are still without a specialist left-back as Marc Wilson continues his recovery from the broken leg he suffered three months ago, but Kemp hopes he will play in a reserve game next week.

A point against Wigan at least stopped Stoke's three-game losing run in the league, but from 2-0 up early in the second half it was a game they would have expected to win.

The biggest worry for Kemp and boss Tony Pulis is the Potters' defensive wobble. Previously the holders of the best defensive record, they have shipped 15 goals in their last five league games.

Kemp said: "It's not just the goalkeeper and the back four, we defend as a team. I think we're known for that and sometimes in other areas, if you stop doing things that have brought you success, you can start leaking goals as we have done.

"It's obviously something we've got to address that we're working hard on, but you've got games and transfer windows and all sorts of stuff. Hopefully now that's out of the way we can get back to concentrating on the work with the team.

"You're always concerned (about form) but in a football season you're going to play maybe 50 games and you'll have your highs and low.

"If you had a graph on the wall it would be going up and down all the time. Unfortunately we're on that downward slope but, like on Wall Street, it starts to go up at some stage. Hopefully that could start tomorrow."

Stoke will not have history on their side in north London, though, having lost on their last 10 visits to Arsenal stretching back to 1981.


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