STOKE City’s Rory Delap believes Gavin Kilkenny could be the ideal replacement for the departing Joe Allen at the bet365 Stadium, with the first team coach revealing the Potters had been tracking the Irishman for quite some time.

Kilkenny has departed Cherries to link up with Championship Stoke on a season-long loan deal, extending his contract by a further year at the same time.

The 22-year-old was a big part of Cherries’ initial strong start to the season, helping the side begin their promotion-winning campaign with a 15 match unbeaten streak in the league.

However, after Cherries strengthened their side in January, combined with the return of Jefferson Lerma from suspension and Lewis Cook from injury, Kilkenny found himself side-lined, making just one league appearance after December.

Irish under-21 international Kilkenny had recently spoken about his desire for more game time, a motivation Delap was impressed with.

Having lost stalwart Allen after the Welshman departed after the expiry of his deal, Stoke are keen for Kilkenny to become a key cog in their side for next season.

First team coach Rory Delap told Stoke’s website: “We’ve been monitoring Gavin for a few years and we’ve taken the opportunity to bring him in.

“He’s a very good player; he builds the game and that’s something we felt we needed with Joe Allen having left the Club and hopefully he’ll be a really good addition and help us play the way we want to play.

“He’s highly motivated, he wants to play and doesn’t want to sit on the bench and be a bit part player.

“That’s what we’ve targeted this season – players that are motivated to play, improve and make us a better team.”