Stoke City manager Michael O’Neil still expects John Mikel Obi to play a key role in the Potters push for promotion this season.
Mikel linked up with the Sky Bet Championship club this summer after severing ties with Turkish outfit Trabzonspor.
The midfielder has missed Stoke City’s last seven games across all competitions through injury, but O’Neil believes the former Chelsea star can help the club secure a return to the Premier League.
“For 10 years this Club was used to playing the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and of course we harbour ambitions to have that here once again,” O’Neil said after his side’s Carabao Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night.
“We’re not there yet at this minute in time but we are trying to build a team to get back there. We’re clearly not at full strength but we find ourselves in a good position.
“We have young players who are ambitious, hungry and who want to do well, while we still have some key players to return – Joe Allen, Sam Clucas and John Obi Mikel to name three.
“If we can get those back in our starting XI for the second half of the season then we can push to be in the top six at the very least and aim to get this Club where we feel it should be.”