Stoke City: Could Rangers 'Braveheart' Steven Naismith be on his way to the Brit?
RANGERS rebel Stevie Naismith looks to have added his name to Tony Pulis's "400-strong" shortlist of summer transfer targets.
The Potters are among a clutch of Premier League clubs reported to be monitoring the 25-year-old, who favours the Mama Sidibe-cum-Jon Walters role behind a main striker.
"Stoke, West Brom, Everton, West Ham and Southampton are also interested in Naismith, who is nearing fitness again after he snapped a cruciate last season," reported the Scottish Sun.
The 5ft 10in Scotland international accepted a 75 per cent pay cut in March to help out stricken Rangers, but has now made it clear he wants out of Ibrox.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
But does Naismith have the Stoke "DNA" that Pulis looks for in all his signings? Would he pass the manager's "Salif Diao" test?
The answer appears to be a resounding "yes". This latter-day "Braveheart" could pass for Diao's twin brother, admittedly in a Danny DeVito/Arnold Schwarzenegger sort of way.
Naismith has never complained, whether playing for club or country, to being shifted around the park to play as a striker, on either flank or in central midfield.
And he gets an even bigger tick for the teeth-gnarling tenacity which has made him stand out like a wolf among kittens, even in the unrestrained bloodletting of an Old Firm derby.
"He is a resounding presence: sniping, committed, unabating," wrote The Glasgow Herald, conjuring up an image resembling Glenn Whelan upbraiding Abdoulaye Faye for wearing flip-flops in the Chelsea changing room.
"The measure of Naismith is his refusal to be cowed, in his spirit of defiance as much as his dynamism and astute running.
"Naismith is as likely to holler criticism to one of his team-mates as he is to an opponent, because it stems from his desire to be triumphant."
It was while discussing talk of a Stoke move for former England international Michael Owen that Pulis half-joked that his little black book of possible signings may not be so little after all.
The 32-year-old former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker appeared to have snubbed Stoke yesterday when it was claimed he was on his way to mega-rich Dubai club Al-Shabab.
Then the Arabs claimed the "deal" was off because Owen was "on the downhill". Maybe they mistook him for a racehorse trainer.
But the fact remains TP is keen to do a pay-for-play deal for the injury-plagued Owen, and the fact his Manor House stables are just 30 miles from Stoke could yet be enough to ensure he is seen in harness at the Brit next season.