Stoke City of England’s coach, Michael O’Neill has showered a fresh round of applause on former Super Eagles’ captain, John Mikel Obi, as he says the experienced midfielder gives younger players in The Potters’ squad enough confidence to excel with the team.
Megasportsaena.com reports that, speaking ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Swansea City in the English Championship, O’Neill singled out Mikel among Stoke’s array of experienced players that act as a solid bulwark for the outfit.
Mikel and his teammates host the promotion-chasing Swans at bet365 Stadium in midweek, and O’Neill named the former Chelsea of England ace among five top professionals in the squad that can help the team’s younger players fulfill their potentials.
Mikel, who has also played for Lyn Oslo of Norway, Tianjin Teda of China, Trabzonspor of Turkey and Middlesbrough of England won the English Premier League twice with Chelsea, as well as the FA Cup four times, League Cup twice plus a title apiece in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
Based on all that, the 33-year-old midfielder and Nigeria’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze-winning captain, is well respected by Stoke’s players, such that the coach, who never hides his admiration for the star, has handed Mikel the skipper’s arm for more than ten matches, despite him joining the club less than seven months ago.
O’Neill told StokeonTrentLive: “What we do have is a really good level around them and that helps. I look at John Obi and Joe, James Chester and Steven Fletcher, Danny Batth and they’re all top professionals and top lads for young lads to be around.
“That has given us confidence to introduce young players as we see it and hopefully they’ll be better for the experience. We’re doing it on the basis that longer term it hopefully makes for a stronger team that can challenge for promotion.”