Regardless of what you think of Stoke, it’s hard to believe that they won’t continue to be a Premier League fixture for years to come.

However with an aging squad, now perhaps is the time that Tony Pulis should really consider heavy investment. With the release of Ricardo Fuller, the long term injury to ‘Big Mammy’ Sidibe and the imminent decline of older players such as Peter Crouch (31), Thomas Sorensen (36), Matthew Etherington (30) and Rory Delap (35), is it time that Pulis considered looking to the future and bringing in some bright young talent?

With the signing of Jamie Ness, it would seem that Tony Pulis is doing just that, as a Stoke fan, I hope that it doesn’t stop there. What better place to look than the Championship to bring in some faces for the future and a few to patch up weak areas? We take a look at 10 of those ready to make a step up. (Keep in mind that all valuations are estimations and may bear no resemblance to any future fees)

1. Alex Smithies (Huddersfield)

Valuation: 2-3 Million

With Thomas Sorensen coming to the end of his career, it seems that now may be a good time to invest in a backup who could do a job in the future. All the talk lately is about Birmingham’s Jack Butland, however Smithies is himself a bright young English goalkeeper.

With Asmir Begovic continuing to impress, it is only so long before bigger teams come knocking and if his attitude in the past is anything to go by, Pulis may have a job holding on to him. Therefore Smithies would seem to me an excellent signing for that scenario, a player not quite ready but on the brink of something worth shouting about. What is more with all the media attention on Butland, his asking price would be significantly lower.

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This article was first posted on July 5, 2012