MICHAEL TONGE has found himself on the fringes of Stoke City’s first team squad over the past few seasons . . . and has had to content himself with playing much of his football in loan spells at Championship level.
The 29-year-old midfielder spent the latter part of last season at Barnsley, having previously had short stints with Preston North End and Derby County after being left out of Tony Pulis’ 25-man Premier League squad.
Tonge has found it difficult making the same impact at the Britannia Stadium that he had previously done with Sheffield United which prompted the Potters paying out £2 million to acquire his services in the summer of 2008.
After starting out with Manchester United’s Youth Academy, he was snapped up by an Old Trafford legend Steve Bruce while he was in charge at Bramall Lane and it wasn’t long before he was breaking into the Blades’ first team.
As well as being selected by England at youth and under-21 levels, Tonge made more than 300 appearances in his time in South Yorkshire and attracted interest from several top clubs including Liverpool in that time.
His move to the Britannia Stadium gave him the opportunity to perform at the highest level, but things didn’t work out as planned and, in one instance, he was sent out on loan to Preston along with Potters team-mate Danny Pugh.
Although Tonge made his European debut in the early stages of last season against FC Thun, he was then left out of the Premier League and Europa League squads named by Pulis and so eventually went out on loan to Oakwell.