Stoke City vs Barnsley preview: 3 players to watch

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Players to watch for Stoke City vs Barnsley: #2 Harry Souttar

Harry Souttar

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 06: Harry Souttar of Stoke City during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Reading at Bet365 Stadium on February 06, 2021 in Stoke on Trent, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Souttar has been so solid for Stoke City this season that his high level of play just seems normal now. On the season Souttar leads Stoke in starts, total minutes played, and completed matches. These numbers confirm that Souttar has safely made himself Stoke’s top center-back option. In his defending, of course he will get noticed for his aerial play, but he also leads Stoke city in interceptions on the season. His physicality is always noticeable, but what’s been more impressive is his ability to beat out forwards to loose balls and his overall athleticism and defensive awareness.

Up for Souttar this week will be a Barnsley side with two main scoring threats in Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt.  Of late, Carlton Morris has been on a run with goals in three straight. Overall, the Tykes are pretty deep in their scoring options, even the likes of Callum Styles and Connor Chaplin are dangerous. Souttar will probably see plenty of time up against the more physical Woodrow and it should be a good matchup all night for the young Stoke defender. Stoke will need another big performance from Souttar to stay in the win column.

Working with Souttar will almost certainly be Rhys Norrington-Davies and Tommy Smith as fullbacks. We’ve seen Danny Batth in two straight matches so it’s unclear if O’Neill will run with the same back four or give Chester a chance to return to the starting XI. There also has not been a clear drop off in defensive play since the injury to Nathan Collins which should be encouraging as Stoke make a push for a playoff spot.

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