Former Bristol City boss Dean Holden has been named as Michael O’Neill’s new assistant manager as Stoke City look ahead to next season.

The 41-year-old replaced Billy McKinlay, who spent much of his career as part of David Moyes’s backroom staff at Real Sociedad, West Ham and Sunderland before joining the Potters in 2019.

With Stoke comfortable in mid-table and facing their fourth consecutive season in the Championship, the club decided it was time for a change.

Manager Michael O’Neill said: “I have no doubts that Dean will be an excellent appointment for us. He knows the Championship well from his time in charge of Bristol City and he’s an outstanding young coach with an excellent track record in developing younger players.”

21-year-old striker Tyrese Campbell and 22-year-old centre-back Harry Souttar are just two of the youngsters who could be set to benefit from Holden’s arrival, along with plenty of others in the Stoke squad which has an average age of just 26.

Holden’s appointment comes after just a two month layoff since his Bristol City side slumped to six defeats in a row, ending a six-month spell as the main man in the dugout after a career mainly spent as a number two.

Since his retirement from playing in 2014, Holden has served as assistant manager at Oldham Athletic, Walsall and a four-year spell at Bristol City before taking the job permanently.

The news puts Holden back in familiar territory, backing up former Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill who clearly recognises promise in the young coach as the Potters aim for a fresh promotion push next season.

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