Stoke City currently have two long-term Premier League loan signings on their books, meaning at the moment they can't bring any more in.
Stephen Ireland and Oussama Assaidi are both on loan until the end of the season from Aston Villa and Liverpool respectively. Mark Hughes is hoping that he can sign at least one of them on a permanent deal to facilitate another loan move in the January transfer window.
Out of the two players it seems Stephen Ireland's transfer would be the easiest to complete. Ireland never really established himself at Aston Villa and they wont stand in his way of moving permanently to the Britannia Stadium. There wont be much of a transfer fee involved either. Ireland's career has stuttered since moving on from Manchester City. He had a great season with the club in 2008-2009 but then when they started to bring in expensive signings Ireland moved on. Only this season has he begun to show signs of the player he used to be.
Assaidi on the other hand was hoping to still have a promising career at Liverpool and that is something Hughes is aware of. "Ozzie's intention, certainly when he came here, was to go back to Liverpool and try and force his way back in there," he is quoted by Four Four Two to have said. He will of course face huge competition back at Liverpool, with Brendan Rodgers hoping to bring in a few players this January as well.
"I haven't spoken to him since, but if he does change that view then we will look to do something in the summer if at all possible," Hughes added.
In his time at Stoke, Assaidi has done one or two favours for his parent club. He scored the winner in a 3-2 victory over Chelsea, and also scored in a 1-1 draw against Everton, causing Liverpool's rivals to drop points. Both were cracking goals as well.
If Stoke can manage to tie up Ireland or even Assaidi this month, then they will look to bring in another Premier League loan signing. John Guidetti of Manchester City is a name that has been strongly linked with the club.
image: © Ben Sutherland