Southampton loan star Will Smallbone has received praise from Stoke City manager Alex Neil after producing another impressive performance for the Potters.
Smallbone joined Stoke on a season-long loan from the Saints at the start of the season. He has since been a regular for the EFL Championship club, making 32 appearances across all competitions.
The midfielder impressed for the Potters in their 3-1 win against Swansea City in the league on Tuesday, February 21. Although he did not register a goal or assist, his contributions in the middle of the park were pivotal to the team.
Speaking after the match, Neil reserved special praise for Smallbone and his midfield partners Josh Laurent and Ben Pearson. The Scot hailed the Southampton loanee’s performance as ‘excellent’.
"“I thought the middle three were great, all three of them. I thought Josh Laurent was a powerhouse”, Neil told BBC Radio Stoke.“Will Smallbone, tactically, [with] his legs, getting about the pitch and landing them second balls, was excellent.” “And Ben Pearson, obviously I’ve had Ben for a long time, but he just mops everything up, he’s aggressive, he can go one-for-one, he reads situations.”"
Southampton loan star Smallbone has legs to do for – Stoke boss Neil
Neil has been a huge fan of Smallbone’s work rate as a midfielder. It was only recently that he claimed that the Saints man has legs ‘to die for’.
"“I think Will Smallbone, in my opinion, is a completely underrated player”, the Scot was quoted as saying by The Stoke Sentinel.“If you look what Will brings to the team, his legs are to die for, he’s unbelievable in terms of the amount of ground he covers in a game.”“When he’s not there is when you recognise it the most.”"
Earning regular playing time at Stoke will definitely stand Smallbone in good stead when he returns to Southampton in the summer.