Stoke City boss O’Neill backs talented youngster ahead of international call-up

Jacob Brown celebrates scoring for Stoke against Huddersfield, September 2021

Michael O’Neill believes Jacob Brown’s call-up to the Scotland squad for the upcoming international break will only help further his development.

Brown, 23, has impressed for Stoke this season by scoring four and assisting five more. The youngster’s form has earned him a call up for Scotland ahead of their fixtures against Moldova and Denmark. O’Neill believes that the experience will only help the forward improve as a player.

Speaking to StokeOnTrent live, the Potters boss said: “It’s great for Jacob. It shows the progress he’s made since he came to the club.

“I had a conversation previously with Steve Clarke about him. I knew they’d been watching him, I think it’s great for him to get involved.

“Particularly just to be around the squad and to get used to it is a positive. He’s never had that experience of being away with an international team before as far as I know and they’re two very important games with Scotland in position to clinch a World Cup qualifying play-off spot.

“It’s an exciting time for him to be involved.”

Having joined from Barnsley in summer 2020, Brown is now becoming a fan-favourite in Stoke through his performances.

His strong run in form could also come in handy for Scotland, who are without Lyndon Dykes and Ryan Christie for their opening game.

The Scots must win in Moldova to secure second place in their qualification group. This would mean they are in the play-offs for a spot at Qatar 2022.

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With the forward potentially playing a key role in the fixture, Clarke admitted Brown has been on his radar for some time.

Clarke told BBC Sport: “He’s been on the radar for quite a while here. He almost got an under-21 call-up just before Covid hit.

“Jacob’s had a good spell at Stoke and caught my eye. He’ll bring us something a little bit different and freshen up the striking area because we’re losing Lyndon and Ryan Christie for the first game.”

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Manager addresses poor run of form

Meanwhile, O’Neill admitted he is disappointed in his side’s recent run of form. Stoke have failed to win in their last five outings, and have also let leads slip in three of those games.

The dip in results has seen them drop from third to ninth. But O’Neill insisted his side can’t dwell on the past.

He said: “Of course we’re disappointed that we have one point. And obviously in three of those games we were in front – and in front in the second half. That in itself gives you a lot of frustration.

“But the Championship is about moving to the next game and making sure you do everything possible to win that, particularly when you’re in a little spell like we’re in at the moment.

“We can dwell on Saturday and we can review it but we have to move on. This match at Blackpool gives us that opportunity.”

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