Pilkington set to join Stoke's Irish brigade
STOKE CITY manager Tony Pulis is lining up a summer move for Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington.
Pulis is a long-term admirer of the highly-regarded goalscoring midfielder and tried to sign him from Huddersfield in 2011 but Norwich successfully swooped for his services.
The former Republic of Ireland U-21 international has two years left on his contract at Carrow Road but is not one of the bigger earners at the club.
Stoke have suffered in the wide department this year and would be in a position to offer a lucrative deal with Jermaine Pennant on the way out and Matthew Etherington struggling with his fitness this term.
Jon Walters has been pressed into action as an auxiliary wide man for large parts of this campaign. Pilkington would fit the profile of player that Pulis is looking for, particularly as he is good in the air and effective from set-pieces.
Last season the then Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish was tracking the Blackburn native when he excelled upon his arrival to the top flight, but this year has been frustrating, with hamstring problems curtailing his progress with both club and country.
After committing his international future to Ireland, 24-year-old Pilkington had to pull out of squads in February and March due to setbacks, and he could make his belated debut against England at Wembley later this month.
Pulis is also keeping an eye on the status of Noel Hunt, who has a number of options with his contract at Reading running down and no agreement as yet on an extension.
The in-demand striker remains a target for promotion-chasing Hull and Brighton as well as Leeds, where he could be reunited with his former manager Brian McDermott.
Stoke made an enquiry this week. However, after a brush with relegation, there remains a degree of uncertainty about the future of Pulis and changes to the scouting system at Stoke are being implemented that could impact on his recruitment plans.
Meanwhile, Daryl Murphy is close to joining Ipswich on a permanent basis. Murphy has impressed on loan from Celtic and will not be signing a new deal with the SPL champions when his contract expires in the summer.
Mick McCarthy is building a team to challenge for promotion and has been satisfied with Murphy's contribution in the final months of this season.
Another Waterford man, Brian Murphy, is preparing for life in the Championship next year after committing his future to QPR on the back of the news that Harry Redknapp is sticking around at Loftus Road.
Murphy has been third-choice goalkeeper this season behind Julio Cesar and Rob Green but one of them is expected to leave this summer.
Former Irish international Stephen Elliott is on the lookout for a new club after being released by Coventry. Elliott has suffered dreadful luck with injury problems during his career. Preston, where he played for two seasons between 2008 and 2010, are interested in re-signing the Dubliner.