Stoke City: Legends sign-up for Potters Premier League revolution
STOKE legends Denis Smith and Alan Durban are rejoining the club as part of a new drive to cultivate future Premier League players from the Potteries.
They pair have been recruited on a part-time basis as mentors for budding young Academy players needing guidance off the pitch.
Smith returns to the Stoke City's employment for the first time since ending a near 450-game career in 1982, while Durban is back after the second of two managerial spells ended in 1998.
And in a separate development aimed at revamping the Academy, youngsters of all ages will follow a coaching and conduct blueprint drawn up by manager Tony Pulis.
Pulis says now is the time for him to devote more energy towards the club's production line, but insists he will never lose sight of maintaining the first-team's recent and dramatic progress.
"I am delighted Denis and Alan are coming in to help us in such an important area of the football club," said Pulis.
"Their responsibility will be to make sure kids are being properly prepared at home, at school and in the Academy.
"I have picked two people who have been involved in football at the highest level, as players and managers, who live locally and have a lot of feeling for Stoke City.
"If it goes well, then we will look to bring other similar people into the club to work with the different age levels."
Smith added: "The club has been great to me over the years and so it's nice now to hopefully give something back.
"Nobody has done anything like this before.
"People have taken on the role, but it hasn't been their specific role. Now it is, and that shows how serious the Academy is to Stoke."
Pulis, a consistent critic of the so-called soft nature of the Academy system, insists he intends working within existing guidelines.
But he vowed: "Although we want to work within the system we also want to have our own identity because it is us who pays for the Academy.
"We will all be pulling in the same direction, in respect of technical ability and our approach to discipline, to try to develop young players from the Stoke-on-Trent area as future professionals."
Despite agreeing a fee for West Ham striker Carlton Cole, as reported by The Sentinel last week, the deal is still hinging on personal terms being agreed, according to club sources.
Stoke are ready to pay £4.5m for Cole, rising to a possible £6m, but the deal may not be resolved before Stoke return from their pre-season training camp in Austria at the end of the week.