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Having had a number of options, central defender Luke McNally has today joined Championship club Stoke City on a season long loan.

It was on 28th June last year that we signed the Irishman from Oxford on a four-year deal but he found opportunities difficult to come by in his first season at Turf Moor. Late substitute appearances at Watford and Sunderland were his only league outings.

The League Cup tie against Crawley was his one full game and he also played over an hour in the FA Cup at Bournemouth having come on as a substitute for the injured Taylor Harwood-Bellis and with the injury to Harwood-Bellis set to keep him out of the side for some time, it looked as though McNally might get his opportunity in the league.

That proved not to be the case. On 13th January, we signed Ameen Al-Dakhil from Belgian club Sint-Truiden and eight days later he was joined by Hjalmar Ekdal coming in from Djurgårdens IF. In the following week, in the search for first team football, McNally was loaned to Coventry.

His loan couldn’t have gone much better. He went straight into the Coventry side and played nineteen games as they mounted a challenge to join Burnley in the Premier League. They fell just short, losing their play-off final against Luton on penalties with McNally’s final appearance for the Sky Blues coming at Wembley in that final.

There was some considerable speculation that he might return to Coventry for the 2023/24 season although there appeared to be competition from Millwall for his signature. In the end, he’s gone to neither and has signed for Stoke for the season. When he makes his debut for them, McNally will become the 22nd player to have played for Burnley in the last twenty years who can include Stoke among the other clubs they have played for.

Stoke’s technical director Ricky Martin said: “Luke is a player we have been interested in for some time, having initially made contact with Burnley in January. We weren’t surprised to see Luke consistently perform at a high level in the Championship during his loan at Coventry and we are delighted to have now recruited him at a time when he will only be better for that experience. Luke carries strong physical attributes, is comfortable in possession and displays impressive tactical understanding of the game.”

McNally added: “The manager (Alex Neil) fills me with belief that he will help me to develop as a player and that the trajectory of the Club is going in the right direction. I have been really impressed coming up against his teams, especially in the game against Stoke, which was the toughest match I had last season. I enjoy the tactical aspect of games and I could tell that lots of detail had gone in to how Stoke set up to hurt Coventry that day. The scope is massive here, it is a really good opportunity for me and I believe, with the squad that is being built, that we can achieve great things.”

We wish Luke the very best at Stoke.

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