Stoke to sink Sunderland’s season with capture of first-team duo

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Sometimes the secret to surviving a Premier League season lies in the shrewdness of the January transfer window purchases, and if you can capture two from a fellow relegation-battler then all the better.

That’s exactly the plan of Stoke City who are looking to boost their winless-five-game fortunes by capturing a vital duo from Sunderland.

Mark Hughes’ men aren’t thought to be in too much danger just yet, as their relegation odds of 6/1 suggest, but it’s clear that some fresh faces are required to boost a squad who have only collected three wins in the league since the third game of the season.

The Black Cats’ Lee Cattermole and Steven Fletcher are thought to be on the receiving end of a combined £10m bid from the Potters, according to the Daily Mail, with their departures sure to derail the north east outfit’s survival bid further.

Sunderland are 13/10 to fall through the Premier League’s trap door this season and looked close to replacing Fletcher when their £3m bid for Argentine striker Ignacio Scocco was accepted.

The Scot has struggled to find the net this season, scoring just three goals, but his Premier League nous will surely be a major factor in him outperforming his potential replacement at the Stadium of Light.

In midfield, Cattermole also looks set to be replaced, with Gus Poyet heavily linked with raids on former club Brighton for Will Buckley and Liam Bridcutt, along with Valencia’s Ever Banega.

Although the former Wigan player has started 17 times for Poyet this season the arrival of any of those aforementioned targets could see the one-time skipper expended with, perhaps for the sake of the club’s disciplinary record.

That won’t bother Hughes though, who never seems put off by a player’s temperament, a trait highlighted by the signings of Marko Arnautovic and Stephen Ireland at Stoke.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.