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Potters manager Tony Pulis doesn't necessarily need new defenders for his squad, but a cut-price deal for the captain of the Tangerines looks an attractive proposition

EXCLUSIVE
By Jack Gaughan

Stoke City are keeping tabs on Blackpool’s Alex Baptiste as they seek to take advantage of the turmoil embroiling the club during the January transfer window.

The Potters went down 4-0 at home against Chelsea on Saturday, but had previously only conceded seven goals at the Britannia Stadium all season. The prospect of signing Baptiste, though, presents a good opportunity to bring in one of the best defenders outside the Premier League on the cheap.

Blackpool’s captain can play either in the heart of a back four or at right-back, and has accumulated a plethora of admirers since the Seasiders were promoted to the top flight in 2010.

Although Tony Pulis has yet to make an offer, he will have noted the player’s current contract situation – Baptiste will be a free agent at the end of the season and as of December had not begun talks about a new deal at Bloomfield Road.

That presents two options for the Stoke manager: either to force Blackpool’s hand this month and land the 26-year-old for a cut price with six months remaining on his contract, or to wait until a move can be done in the summer for free.

Baptiste was picked up for a mere £5,000 from Mansfield Town in 2008 and has become indispensable to the club after making more than 150 appearances since then.

Meanwhile, Blackpool are thought to be close to naming former Nottingham Forest boss Sean O’Driscoll as their new manager, and it could be announced this week.

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