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Feb 1, 2013

Brek Shea labeled a player 'for the future'

Stoke City assistant boss Dave Kemp on Friday called U.S. international Brek Shea, whom the Potters acquired Thursday for nearly $4 million, a player "for the future," implying that Shea was bought more for his potential than his ability to help Stoke this season.

In a statement Thursday upon completing Shea's deal, Stoke boss Tony Pulis also mentioned Shea's long-term appeal.

"Brek is a very, very exciting player, and one who we firmly believe could go on to become an outstanding player for this football club," Pulis told the club's official website.

Stoke brought in two players on deadline day -- Shea, a winger from FC Dallas, and highly-rated England goalkeeper Jack Butland from Birmingham.

Butland's capture on a four-and-a-half-year deal is a coup, with the 19-year-old opting for Stoke over Chelsea, but he will not be an immediate asset to the Potters as he has headed straight back to Birmingham on loan.

Shea, 22, is also seen as one for the future, partly because he is still recovering from a foot operation, and Kemp admitted Stoke missed out on other targets and areas of the squad are a cause for concern.

"We've brought in two excellent young players but they are both for the future," Kemp said. "To be honest, the squad is unbalanced. We've been aware of that since the summer. We tried to correct it in the last window and didn't manage it, and the plan was to get through to this window and address it and unfortunately we haven't."

Defenders Matthew Upson and Rory Delap left Stoke on Thursday for Brighton and Barnsley, respectively, leaving the Potters short in defense, especially on the left-hand side.

"We also let two senior players go out on the preface we were bringing players in, so in some respects you could argue we're a bit weaker than it might appear from the outside," Kemp said. "A left back is one -- we are short of left-sided players in the club. We let Matty Upson go so there's another one we were hoping to replace.

"In each window, I think the way football's gone now you have to keep freshening the squad up. We didn't do it this time last year, and I felt we suffered for that a bit, we did in the summer window but we've missed the boat again a little bit."

Shea has played for Dallas since 2008 and is recovering from November surgery on his right foot. He has no goals in 15 appearances for the U.S. national team. He joins American defender Geoff Cameron at Stoke.

Butland's signing has inevitably led to speculation that Asmir Begovic will be sold in the summer, with the Bosnia international keeper reportedly attracting the attentions of the Premier League's biggest clubs.

But Kemp stressed the opportunity to sign one of England's brightest prospects was simply too good to turn down.

"Jack's obviously one of the biggest up-and-coming goalkeepers in the country," Kemp said. "It's a bit of a coup for us to get him to come here and we're delighted with that.

"We have a core of young players here and I think players look at it and see Stoke's a good place to go and improve their career."

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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