Stoke Strengthen Squad with James McClean
After relegation last season, Stoke City are working towards an immediate return to the Premier League. They have signed players to strengthen their squad after seeing many players leave, and their most recent signing is James McClean from West Brom. The Republic of Ireland winger fell out with West Brom, and failed to report to a pre-season training camp in an attempt to force a move away. This has now happened, and McClean will get the chance to start with a clean slate at Stoke.
There is no doubt that the 29 year old is a fantastic player when his mind is on the job, and the fresh start could be exactly what he needs. His quality will provide Stoke with someone special at Championship level, and they will be hoping he can feature in what is expected to be a promotion push. Whether he cuts inside and scores goals or delivers killer balls with his left foot, McClean has a lot to offer and can get invovled in the attacking play we are going to see from Stoke this coming season. He is another weapon for new boss Gary Rowett and another reason why many are backing Stoke for an immediate return to the Premier League.
Stoke 5/1 Favourites for Championship Title
After seeing players leave, but also seeing quality players come back into the team, the bookmakers have priced Stoke up as the 5/1 favourites to win the Championship. This puts them ahead of fellow ex-Premier League team West Brom, who look to be approaching a return to the Premier League in a slower fashion. It is clear that Stoke are prepared to spend money and make an immediate return, and the signing of James McClean certainly shows that.
We will get a chance to see what Stoke are made of straight away when the season begins because they have a tough trip to face Leeds on the opening weekend. They play on the Sunday, with the game being covered live on TV, allowing many people to take what will be their first look at this Stoke squad this summer. There have been many changes at the club this summer including moving league, a new manager on board, players leaving and players coming in. This game will be a tough test based on all that, but Stoke have to start well if they want an immediate return to the top flight, the Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world to get out of. They are priced up at 17/10 to beat Leeds on the opening weekend and begin with a very welcome three points.