DEAN WHITEHEAD appreciates that there’s more competition than ever in Stoke City’s squad . . . but insists it will bring the best out of everyone as they head into the new season.
Summer-signings Michael Kightly, Jamie Ness and Geoff Cameron have joined the fight for starting berths in the Potters’ midfield, but Whitehead believes it can only be healthy for the Club.
“There’s competition everywhere, but I think every team needs that,” he said.
“If you don’t have that, then sometimes you can get complacent. We’ve got a lot of good players now fighting for eleven shirts.
“Geoff’s a big lad, he’s athletic and he can get around the park, Jamie’s a technical player with a good left foot and Michael is a skilful player who poses a threat going forward in wide positions. So, we’ve got plenty of options.”
The 30-year-old insists that a top ten finish would constitute a successful season, but says all the team’s attention is on this weekend’s opener against Reading.
“The top-ten has got be our aim, we’ve been so close these past few seasons,” he added.
“It would be great to do that, but we’ve got to focus on Reading and the games afterwards.
“It’s a tough League, but we’ve got to make sure we go there and get a result because you want to get off to a good start.
“It’s going to be a long, hard season because every team is improving and we’ve got to make sure that we improve too.”
He says that the rigorous pre-season schedule has stood the players in good stead, though, and is sure that they’re ready to hit the ground running.
“It’s been tough – we’ve done a lot of travelling and played some difficult teams in America, but the lads are ready to crack on,” he commented.
“We’ve done the running, we’ve done the pre-season games so it’s now up to the manager to pick his 11 and we’ll all be ready.”