Stoke's Shotton in demand

Pulis has difficult decision to make on loan offers

Shotton: Scored his first goal for the club against Hajduk Split last month

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Stoke have reportedly received loan offers from Ipswich and Burnley for youngster Ryan Shotton.

The versatile 22-year-old is a full-back by trade but has been used by Stoke boss Tony Pulis as a makeshift striker in pre-season and in Europe.

Shotton has Championship experience through his loan spell at Barnsley in 2009-10, but found himself on the fringes of Stoke's first-team last season.

And after scoring his first competitive goal in a Europa League qualifier against Hajduk Split last month, he is thought to be keen to fight for his place.

Pulis, though, admits he must consider the loan bids for the good of Shotton's career.

"Ryan is a young lad who needs to play football," he told The Sentinel.

"And we hope he plays football with us. But he does need to play, like Andy Wilkinson and Carl Dickinson before him did."

Youth academy

Meanwhile, Pulis has resorted to taking up a hands-on role in the club's youth academy in a bid to improve the end product in their production line.

"It's important we knuckle down and try to recruit the best young players in our area," said Pulis.

"We have invested more and more over the years into our youth policy and we have to see a return - but that return won't be for the next two years.

"It is very difficult to get kids to the standard we want, but we must try to do that.

"The way we are going to do that is to get the best young players from our area into the club.

"I believe the ability is out there and now we have got facilities that are as good as anywhere in the country.

"Now is the time to stop making excuses. For the next two years we will concentrate on getting this right."