CORK CITY are in negotiations with Stoke City to face the Championship side in a friendly this July.
As part of their pre-season preparations Stoke plan to have a training camp in Cork the first week of July and hope to arrange a friendly against Colin Healy’s side.
Although a finalised date has yet to be agreed, it is believed that the weekend of 8-10 July – a weekend when City are without a league fixture is the preferred date.
Stoke, who are managed by former Shamrock Rovers and Northern Ireland manager, finished 14th in the Championship, 13 points outside of the playoffs, in O’Neill’s second full season in charge of the club having finished in the same position the year previous, but did improve on their points tally by two points this year.
O’Neill has had to work under a reduced budget since joining the club but will be hoping to be closer to the playoffs next season.
There could be some recognisable faces in the Stoke squad such as Gabriel Adebambo, who joined the club from Dundalk 2020, and Cork native and former Greenwood FC player Ethon Varian, who has just returned to the club following his one year loan spell with Scottish Championship side Raith Rovers.
Varian is not the only Cork connect associated with Stoke City with former Cobh Wanderers, Manchester City and Republic of Ireland international Stephen Ireland having lined out for the Potters between 2014-2018.
Of course the most recently connection being Kieran Coates who is currently on loan with Cork City from Stoke.
City are no strangers to hosting friendlies against teams from the UK.
It will be 10 years this summer since City faced Manchester United.
More recently, the club have welcomed teams like Birmingham City, West Ham United, Portsmouth and Burnley to Turner's Cross, with the last English side to play against City being Preston North End.
However since that Preston game in 2019, the club have been unable to welcome teams from abroad because of Covid restrictions, but with restrictions now lifted, City will be able to again attract clubs outside of Ireland to Turner's Cross and could benefit from striking up relationships with those clubs.
With the club in a battle for the First Division title, some might see this Stoke game as a distraction.
However since City are without a game that weekend, the fixture could come as a welcome game to maintain the players fitness and allow them to prove themselves against an English Championship side.
City are back in action on Friday 20 May when they face Wexford at Turner's Cross before their top of the table clash against Galway United at Deacy Park the following weekend.