Tuesday 26 March 2019

Rowett relishing Stoke challenge

Opportunity: Rowett
Opportunity: Rowett

Gary Rowett cannot wait to get started on the "real challenge" ahead at Stoke.

Rowett left Derby after they lost in the semi-finals of the Sky Bet Championship play-offs to take over at the bet365 Stadium on a three-year deal.

The 44-year-old will be charged with getting Stoke back into the Premier League at the first attempt following their relegation.

"I am incredibly excited about the opportunity and the season ahead, with what we are capable of achieving together," Rowett said yesterday.

"It is a real challenge for me, but I like challenges, enjoy something new and am really looking forward to it."

Paul Lambert left his post as Stoke manager by mutual consent in the wake of relegation, winning just two of his 15 games at the helm after coming in on a two-and-a-half-year deal in January, following the departure of Mark Hughes.

Rowett had been linked with the Stoke vacancy earlier in the year, with the final touches to his move completed following a family break.

Former England defender Glen Johnson and midfielder Stephen Ireland have been released, while Austrian centre-back Kevin Wimmer has joined Bundesliga club Hannover on a season-long loan deal as Stoke prepare for life outside the top flight.

However, the Championship club are expected to complete a surprise move for striker Benik Afobe - less than a week after he joined Wolves from Bournemouth for £10million.

Rowett hopes to be able to retain both Ryan Shawcross and Joe Allen, but would not be drawn on specific transfer targets. He said: "We want to put players on the pitch that will inspire the fans. That is what I will be looking to do.

"We also want players who can make a real impact for us in the Championship, and then be good enough to play in the Premier League too. It is difficult to put names out there at the minute."

Rowett added: "The club didn't win many matches last season, so we want to change that. This could be a really exciting season for us, and we will give everything we can to deliver that."

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