STOKE CITY could turn to Darlington goalkeeper Sam Russell if Ed de Goey chooses to quit the Britannia Stadium this summer, writes Lee Hall

Veteran stopper de Goey, 38, is out of contract and considering a new one-year deal with Stoke. However, after spending the majority of last season as second choice to Steve Simonsen, the former Holland international is preparing to hang up his gloves in his native homeland.

And, if de Goey does decide to call time on his Stoke career, Potters boss Tony Pulis could be ready to tempt Russell away from the Williamson Motors Stadium.

Out-of-contract Russell has yet to agree a new Quakers deal, although the highly-rated stopper would face the prospect of being third-choice at Stoke, even if de Goey does decide to quit.

As well as South Shields-born Simonsen, young keeper Ben Foster has returned to Stoke after a successful loan spell at Wrexham last season.

"There is some truth that Stoke were watching Sam last season," admitted Hodgson. "They haven't made any official approach, although a lot could depend on the goalkeeper situation down there."

Stoke are one of a number of club's to have expressed an interest in the 22-year-old, who has been a huge success since moving from Middlesbrough on a free transfer 12 months ago.

And, while Hodgson would like to retain the services of Darlington's player-of-the-season, he concedes a player of Russell's ability is going to attract interest.

A former agent himself, Hodgson understands the reasons for Russell stalling on a new Quakers deal, as other club's consider moves for the Teessider.

"In this situation I have to admit that Sam is doing the right thing as an individual," said Hodgson. "He had a good season with us and we have to accept that there are going to be club's interested in signing him."

Russell is under 24 and under the Bosman ruling will command a fee.

Hodgson added: "For the time being we are hoping to keep him on a week-to-week basis, but if he does decide to leave it may have to go down to a tribunal."