Speaking to Stoke on Trent Live, Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has moved to heap praise on emerging defender Harry Souttar after he was named as the club’s player of the month.

Upon returning from a successful loan stint with League One side Fleetwood Town, young defender Harry Souttar has been in and around the first-team picture with parent club Stoke City.

Speculation circulated regarding Souttar’s immediate future during the summer transfer window. A host of clubs were linked with a loan move for Souttar but the Australian remained with the Potters, giving him the chance to fight for and earn a place in Michael O’Neill’s side.

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Souttar started in two EFL Cup matches and made his first Championship appearance in a 1-0 win against Preston North End. The 22-year-old has started in every second-tier game since, holding down a place in Stoke City’s starting 11, helping them rise to 8th.

Now, Souttar has gained some recognition for his performances, being named as Stoke’s player of the month. Upon receiving the award, Potters boss O’Neill has moved to heap praise on Souttar, picking out some of his best attributes that will help him become one of the best centre-backs in the league.

He said: “Harry came back and I said to him that going back on loan would mean he’s back in a year with the same situation. Why don’t you just grasp the opportunity, try to get in the team?

“We drip-fed him in using the cup games to begin with and he found his way into the starting XI. I said to him that he just has to keep up the levels he’s been doing. Sometimes young players drop off a little bit. He can’t allowed that to happen.

“He’s a player blessed with great natural attributes. Obviously his height but also he’s got good game intelligence and he’s a great user of the ball as well. That’s something which I think will set him apart from the other defenders in this league.”

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Stoke City fans, do you think Souttar should maintain his place in O’Neill’s starting 11? Let us know what you think in the poll at the bottom of the page.

Should Souttar maintain a spot in the side?