How Harry Souttar is earning plaudits at Stoke City
Socceroos and Stoke City centre back Harry Souttar is making an impression for the Potters this season with several standout performances.
Souttar’s stock is on the rise with the towering defender slowly establishing himself in the starting line-up for English Championship club Stoke City.
Following a successful loan spell at League One club Fleetwood Town last season, the 21-year-old returned to Stoke with a point to prove as he looked to force himself into the starting eleven.
“Coming into preseason, I knew that we had a big squad. I think we had seven fit centre halves so I knew it was going to be difficult to get in the squad first and foremost,” Souttar told Socceroos.com.au.
“It was just a case of working hard and trying to prove to him (Stoke coach Michael O’Neill) that I can play in this team and play the way that he wants.”
A positive pre-season saw him prove his worth to O’Neill as Stoke decided to keep him at the club amid interest from other teams.
“I worked hard, trying to show the gaffer what I can do really and played a couple of cup games and I’ve been given my chance in the league,” he said.
“Everything’s going good so far, we’ve picked up a couple of results. Hopefully I can just keep going and keep trying to do the best that I can for the team and we’ll see where it takes me.”
The Socceroos defender was initially given a chance in the League Cup against Wolves in mid-September.
He was able to keep a clean sheet against the Premier League outfit as they progressed to the third round.
Another shut-out against Gillingham was enough for O’Neill to hand him his first league start that following weekend against Preston North End.
Yet again, the towering defender impressed as his side came away with a 1-0 win and he was selected in the famed English Football League (EFL) Team of the Week.
He then went on to play a full game in the heart of defence in the fourth round of the cup as his side earned another Premier League scalp when they saw off Aston Villa.
The Scottish-born centre back is settling into life at the club and appears unfazed by the old saying: Can you do it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke?
“You know what, it gets a bad rep (reputation),” he said.
“It’s a lot sunnier than people make out. This pre-season and certainly up to now we’ve only had a couple days of rain. The sun’s been shining and it’s been brilliant.”
“It’s not been very hot but the sun’s been out anyway.”
In the final fixture prior to the international break, Souttar put on a show once again as his side drew 1-1 against Birmingham with the centre back’s performance enough to see him earn a place in the Championship’s Team of the Week.
His rich run of form has seen him boost his standing in a star-studded Stoke side, however he’s keeping himself grounded as he looks to learn and develop under the guidance of the senior players.
“For us young guys in the squad to learn off them every day and to see what they’re doing not just on the park but off it as well in the gym,” he said.
“It’s massive for us younger lads to keep learning every day. First and foremost you’ve got to be working hard every day to prove that you should be in the team."