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World Cup Watch: QPR exile should tempt Stoke into an offer

| 03.06.2014

As our series of World Cup scouting reaches the Britannia Stadium our look over the Stoke squad revealed a fairly well-balanced set of players, with no obvious holes to fill.

Their ninth-place finish under Mark Hughes last season, their first top-10 standing in the Premier League, hints at a settled set of players in the Potteries.

So the former QPR boss could perhaps use the World Cup to upgrade the quality available to him, rather than plugging gaps. Here’s our three suggestions:

Shinji Okazaki – Japan – Striker

Beyond Peter Crouch, who made 30 starts in the Premier League last season, Stoke’s striking stock consists mainly of versatile forwards rather than out and out strikers.

Okazaki scored 14 goals in 27 appearances in the Bundesliga this term and lead Japan’s scoring chart during qualification with eight strikes. He’s 3/1 to be Japan’s top scorer in Brazil.

Stephane Mbia – Cameroon – Midfielder

Although Mbia’s stint with QPR in the Premier League wasn’t exactly remembered fondly he rediscovered his form during a loan spell away from Loftus Road, with Sevilla, last season.

Hughes was the man who signed Mbia for the Hoops and could be tempted to be reunited with his former charge given his upturn in form.

Stoke is far more likely to suit the Cameroonian’s combative style too, as he averaged 1.9 tackles and 2.3 interceptions in all competitions, while chipping in with five goals too.

Andres Guardado – Mexico – Defender

The Mexican full-back, who can also adopt a position on the wing, spent the second half of last season on loan at Bayer Leverkusen from Valencia, but only made four appearances in that time.

Clearly available then, Guardado’s attacking instincts would suit the new style of play Hughes is trying to implement with the Potters and the 27-year-old’s ability to assist would be a valuable asset from defence.

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Author

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.