Midlands latest: Stoke given boost in transfer chase; Assombalonga speaks

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

We round up the latest news from Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

1) Stoke City could land Montpellier target

Montpellier are prepared to listen to offers for Benjamin Stambouli, who is a reported target of Stoke City.

The midfielder has been of interest to the Potters this summer, as Hughes looks to add further strength to an impressive squad at the Britannia, and it appears that they could have a chance of landing the 23-year-old.

Sambouli only has one year left on his contract and, despite his importance, Montpellier would rather cash-in on him now than risk losing him on a free next summer.

It could alert Stoke’s attention and mean that they make a bid in the future, although Saint-Ettiene are also keen on signing the defensive midfielder.

2) Chris Brunt to carry on as captain

New West Bromwich Albion manager, Alan Irvine, has confirmed that Chris Brunt will continue in his role as club captain for the upcoming season.

The Northern-Irish international has led the side since the 2010/11 season and will wear the armband on his sleeve once again this year under the new boss.

“Chris will absolutely be our captain,” Irvine confirmed. “There’s absolutely no reason to change it. He has the respect of the changing room, he’s done a great job as captain for many years, so I have no intention to make any changes.”

3) Alan Hutton to take Villa second chance

Aston Villa man Alan Hutton says that he will make the most of his chance at the club, after Paul Lambert has brought him back into first-team contention this summer.

For the past two seasons Hutton has spent time out on loan and in the reserves, after seemingly being away from Lambert’s long-term plans.

However, after a switch to West Brom fell through this summer, Lambert has given him a chance again and Hutton says that he bears no grudges towards his manager for his treatment of him previously.

“He always helped me,” the Scotland international said. “Despite what happened we were always in contact and always talking.

“He would do anything to help me, he was always good on that side. It was always positive, nothing bad at all. Never once was there a bad word between us.

“It’s been a long time since I was involved and to be given this opportunity again – who would have thought it would happen? Certainly not me.

“But the only thing I can do now is work double hard and show everyone I can play.

4) Assombalonga speaks for the first time after Forest transfer

Britt Assombalonga has undertaken his first interview since leaving Peterborough United for Nottingham Forest yesterday for a fee of around £6 million and he says he can’t wait to get started at his new club.

The Congolese forward ripped apart League One last season at London Road to earn his move to the Championship – and he explains that he feels he is able to perform at a higher level.

“I've got confidence in myself that I can score goals at this level and I need to take that into the new season,” he said.

"Nottingham Forest seemed like the best chance for me to step up and take on a new challenge. This will be my first season in Championship football and it will be a massive test. But I'm going to try as hard as I can to get myself in the team and to enjoy my football.”

5) Thelwell: Sako focused on Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers head of football development, Kevin Thelwell, says that he expects Bakary Sako to be in Kenny Jackett’s line-up on Saturday and he will be fully focused on the task ahead, despite rumours linking him with a move away from the club.

The powerful winger has been identified as one of the top players outside of the Premier League and, as such, interest has come Wolves’ way from a range of clubs, but Thelwell says that this will have no effect on his performance for the club.

“There has been some tentative interest but nothing solid,” he said.

“We’re all anticipating and hoping he will be in our starting XI come the start of the season.

“I think Sako is in a really good place – he seems to have got framed in his mind exactly what he wants to achieve, and what his future looks like.

Register for ASTON VILLA team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch