Stoke: Training ground news
As Stoke City make the final preparations for the start of the new season, The Vital Stoke ed has spent the morning at the Potters' training ground down at the Michelin.
It was good to see that work has finally started on the new training facilities, even this only involves putting some fences up where the new building will eventually stand. The £5m development officially got under way at the end of July and should be ready for the start of next season.
On the pitch itself, Glenn Whelan and Liam Lawrence had obviously wasted no time flying back from their Irish international friendly against Australia in Limerick last night which the Socceroos won 3-0. Whilst Glenn played all 90 minutes, Liam will not be happy that he didn't make it on to the pitch. Whether Whelan makes into the starting eleven on Saturday will depend on Tone's assessment of his fitness, but he will have been relieved to see both back without injury and will, no doubt, be more pleased than Lawrence that he didn't get a game.
The main absentee is, of course, Mamady Sidibe. But the Mali international was spotted jogging around the pitch well away from the rest of the squad as he continues to recover from a knee operation at the start of the year. It's said that he should be back in contention by October.
The Potters have been trialling a Senegalese midfielder this week and he was busy going through his paces with the second string whilst Tony Pulis coached the likely starting eleven. It should come as no surprise that his name is also Faye. After a quick google on the web, I found that Ibrahima Faye is currently with Troyes AC in the North-East of France and they've just been relegated from the second division of the French football league. He's 29 and has been with the club since 2005 making 115 appearances with five goals. Whether he's given a chance with us remains to be seen, but he's unlikely to be seen as a 'major signing'.
On the coaching front there was no sign of any new assistant managers with reports that Brian Kidd was the latest to have held discussions with the Potters' management this week. There was the familiar mullet of Gerry Francis in attendance giving advice to TP along with John Rudge. Stoke legend, Dennis Smith was also present, but he seemed to be just along for a visit rather than actively participating.