Date: 18th February 2020 at 7:20pm
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Stoke City fans have been reacting to a post on Twitter by the Second Tier Podcast, in which an audio clip from the show discusses why Michael O’Neill is not giving youth, and specifically , a chance in the side. 

O’Neill’s side have been underwhelming so far this season, with the Potters sitting just one place and three points above the Championship relegation zone, and fans have been particularly disheartened by their club’s defensive performances.

The club have conceded 53 goals – the third-highest amount in the league – this season, leaving host Ryan Dilks to question why O’Neill has yet to turn to youth, rather than continuing to field the more experienced under-performers.

He stated: “They’ve put in some absolutely dog-dirt performances recently, and it’s mainly defensively where the issues are. They’re scoring goals, it hasn’t been as much of an issue as it was earlier in the season, and I think they need to give the young talent a go.

“They have got some top players there. Their experienced players have let them down this season, not naming any names, Danny Batth, but they’re looking absolutely awful, these experienced players.”

He continued: “I’d give Nathan Collins a go, because he’s an 18-year-old centre back who has played a bit this season, but not enough for my liking. There is a lot of hype around him, and why not give him a run of games? You can guarantee he’ll be giving it his all, which is something I can’t say for sure about some of the players starting each week for Stoke at the moment.”

In reaction to Dilks’ comments, have pledged their support for Collins, with some calling for O’Neill to start the 18-year-old in Stoke’s game against Cardiff this Saturday.

What do we think?

Stoke need to solve their defensive issues quickly, and in Nathan Collins, who is valued at £450k (as per Transfermarkt), they could have found the answer.

O’Neill stated back in December that “you’ll expect to see Nathan emerge and push to be in the first team in the very near future. Nathan has a lot of qualities in terms of his possession and his range of as well. He has a composure about him, which is nice to see in such a young player, and he’s going to be an important player for us going forward.”

Despite high praise from his manager, Collins has only made six appearances for Stoke in the league this season. However, with Stoke’s current defenders performing as they did in their recent 4-2 defeat to QPR, surely it is only a matter of time before O’Neill introduces the Irish centre-back to the Potters defence.