‘Harry has made us better’: The surprising way Souttar is improving Stoke's fortunes

According to Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill, there is far more to Harry Souttar's game than his impressive physical stature. 

The towering defender attracted more plaudits from his club manager after scoring his first Stoke goal in their 2-0 victory over Wycombe. 

The comments are a testament to the 22-year-old's progression in recent times, following on from the 2019 claims of former manager Joey Barton that Fleetwood Town were basing their set-piece strategy around Souttar's aerial presence. 

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Despite having registered two goals in four internationals for the Socceroos, it took the 22-year-old 36 matches to break his duck for the Championship club. 

Post-game, his manager provided the local media with an insight into exactly what Souttar brings to his side. 

“I think Harry’s got a lot to offer,” he said 

“The most pleasing thing for me is that Harry has made us better in terms of starting games from the back.

People might just see 6ft 7in and think it’s all about the aerial side of the game but if anything it’s not like that for Harry. He’s a quality footballer and I think he’s adapted to the Championship really well."

“There have been little blips that he’s had and I think in recent times he could have done better on some of the goals we conceded but that’s all part of the learning curve."

Souttar received similar praise last month after inking a new four-and-a-half year deal with the Potters. 

O'Neill has high faith in Souttar's potential, believing he possesses all the attributes to succeed at the highest level. 

“The contract is geared in a way that Harry has to aspire to be a top level player," he said.

 "At 22 years of age, I would hope he aspires to play in the Premier League whether that’s with Stoke or someone else. The challenge is there for him. I think he has the attributes so if he continues to develop he can do that.“He’s had a really solid season for his first season in the Championship and he just has to maintain that between now and the end of the season.”

READ MORE: Souttar signs new deal with Stoke

O'Neill's praise is in distinct contrast to comments made by Joey Barton during Souttar's loan stint with League One outfit Fleetwood Town.

“We’ve worked on getting some new moving patterns for him from corners, because he’s so good in the air,” ex-Premier League player said back in 2019.

Harry Souttar
Souttar during his time with Fleetwood

“Credit must go to the staff and everyone at the club for that, especially the statistic department who highlight these areas during the week. It’s pleasing to come off the pitch and their work has been rewarded."

Souttar's Stoke are currently tenth in the Championship and will be hoping to leapfrog ninth-placed Middlesbrough when they lock horns this weekend.