Stoke City’s new signings Marco van Ginkel and Shay Given touched down in Singapore on Sunday morning – for the 2015 edition of the Barclays Asia Trophy (BAT). They will be making their Stoke City debut in Singapore.
Because of international duties, the duo had been allowed to arrive in Singapore later than the rest of the Stoke City squad, which had touched down on Thursday. The club’s other players who arrived this morning for the same reason, are Charlie Adam, Marko Arnautovic, Mame Biram Diouf, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson.
Glen Johnson, whose transfer to Stoke City will be finalised soon, also arrived in Singapore on Sunday morning.
Singapore is a different ball game compared to England
Stoke’s two new signings are already finding Singapore a very different ball game compared to being in England – because of the tropical climate. Said Dutch midfielder Van Ginkel, who has recently signed on for Stoke – on a season-loan from Chelsea, “It’s warm! I was in this part of the world two years ago with Chelsea and I know a little bit about Singapore. It can be a little hard to train in the heat but I don’t mind that – I know the fans here go crazy for the Premier League, so it’s always great to come here.”
Over the next 12 months, Van Ginkel’s main objectives are to be fit and to get games to play. He said, “I want to be an important part of the team. I had an injury after two games at Chelsea so I could not play a lot of games. Hopefully this year, I will play a lot and I’m very excited to be playing in the Premier League.”
Confident he can make a contribution at Stoke City
Van Ginkel is confident that he can make a contribution for Stoke City, both up front and defensively. He said, “I am a box-to-box player and I think I can make a contribution both up front and also defensively. I work hard, that’s what I want to bring to the team. Hopefully I can important with goals and assists.”
He was initially attracted to play for Stoke because he had a conversation with the manager, Mark Hughes, which went well. Said Van Ginkel, “I had a conversation with the Manager and it was very good. If you come to a club, it’s always important to speak to the manager, to see what he’s thinking about your place in the team. I had a very good feeling to come to Stoke. I’m happy to be here and it’s good to meet all the boys in Singapore. I am looking forward to a great week of football.”
Great to play in front of big crowds at the BAT
Similarly, goalkeeper Shay Given, who has just joined Stoke City from Aston Villa and featured in the Barclays Asia Trophy’s 2011 edition in Hong Kong, is also looking forward to being in Singapore. He said, “Even though it’s a long way away, we know how big the Barclays Premier League is in this part of the world. It’s great that they can come and watch us, come and see the Premier League players live. It was great in Hong Kong four years ago, to play in front of big crowds.”
At the same time, Given is relishing the Premier League opposition at the Barclays Asia Trophy. He said, “It’s good we have Premier League opposition as we are preparing for the Premier League after all. The stronger the opposition, the quicker we can get up to speed. So it will be good for us.”
Joined Stoke because of his good relationship with Mark Hughes
Given had chosen to join Stoke because of his good relationship with Hughes. He said, “My good relationship with Hughes was a big factor. He brought me from Newcastle to Manchester City and it worked well there. I know his staff well which was important to me too and I am looking forward to working with them again too. They have a fantastic past couple seasons and I wanted to be a part of that. It’s also nice to come in to a changing room and see a few familiar faces and that is true for me with the Irish boys here in Jon Walters and Glenn Whelan.”
He admitted though, that he had been very close to signing for Middlesbrough instead of Stoke City. He said, “It was close. But like any transfer, nothing is done until it is done. But I had a call from Stoke and it was too good an opportunity to turn down, to stay in the Premier League and work with Mark Hughes again and his staff. Middlesbrough came out of the blue, then Stoke came out of the blue.”
Competition in the goalkeeping department at Stoke next season
Given anticipates competition in the goalkeeping department at Stoke though. He said, “Jack Butland is a quality keeper, an up-and-coming star, in goalkeeping terms. I will try to help him but I want to play as well. The competition will be healthy for Jack, for me, as well as Jakob Haugaard, who Stoke City signed in the summer. You need competition in every position.”
He added, “After all, squads have changed from having two to three keepers, sometimes four decent keepers at the clubs. But you need strong back-up like that, what with suspensions and injuries. And you also need strong competition from behind the scenes pushing hard so the guy in the posts knows he needs to perform to keep his place.”