DAVID TURNBULL, who came close to joining Celtic last summer, is being tracked by Championship outfit Stoke City.

Potteries boss Michael O’Neill, who quit Northern Ireland to take over from Nathan Jones in November last year, has close connections with the Scottish football scene.

The former Hibs midfielder continued to live in Edinburgh while he was on international manager for nine years.

He is preparing for the new season as this one peters out with his club sitting in 19th place with five games to play. They are currently five points ahead of bottom outfit Luton who are on 41.

O’Neill is an admirer of Turnbull who saw a £3.2million switch from Motherwell to the champions scuppered last season when a knee problem was exposed when he went through a stringent medical, as CQN reported.

The 20-year-old midfielder returned to first-team action in February before Scottish football went into cold storage in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Stoke gaffer is hoping to pick up some bargains in Scotland in the transfer window which could stretch until the end of October.

O’Neill, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “As a result of the financial struggle, clubs have to develop their own players and that means at every club, typically, there are young players getting the opportunity to play first-team football.

“Those are the ones worth monitoring and keeping an eye on. We wouldn’t typically look at players who’ve been in Scottish football for a long time, as we don’t see them as having the right profile.

“But certainly the younger ones are worth considering.

“The other thing about the Scottish league is that there are a lot of young players. You can come up here and find 21 year-olds who’ve played a hundred games and that’s quite hard to find in English football, certainly in the Championship and at Premier League level.”

He added: “The problem people have with Scottish football is that they probably watch it on TV and at times it doesn’t look like a great spectacle because at certain games the stadium is a little bit empty, while the other thing is you see games on artificial pitches.

“It’s about assessing the level of play and then try to benchmark whether those players could step up and play in the Championship.

“There’s players that have clearly done that – John McGinn at Aston Villa and Kenny McLean who went to Norwich. Both of them got promoted with their teams and were very important players, so it’s about trying to find that level of player.

“Players from Scotland going down to England see it as a massive opportunity. It’s a much bigger league and financially it’s far more rewarding.

“Typically, you’ll get a player with a good attitude who’s hungry to succeed.”

Neil Lennon is still reported to be monitoring the player while O’Neill has made a move for Hoops target David Marshall, as CQN reported earlier today.

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