Stoke City manager sang the praises of Ki-Jana Hoever after his two goals against Blackburn Rovers on Friday, but said he isn’t sure yet about signing him on a permanent deal.
Hoever made his eighth appearance for the Potters against the promotion-chasing Lancashire outfit.
And it was a game to remember for him, as he scored two goals in the first-half.
Prior to that brace, Hoever had only ever scored one goal in his professional career.
It was a brilliant moment for Hoever, who has had some struggles this season.
He was unable to get much game time when he was on loan at PSV Eindhoven. And in his first two seasons at Wolves he mostly played second fiddle to Nelson Semedo, after joining the club for £13.5 million.
Molineux officials are now hoping he can break into Stoke’s team and stay there.
And it looks as though he has made a great early impression on Neil, who lavished praise on him for the way he has started his loan spell.
He said (Stoke Sentinel): “I think for any 16-year-old to break into the Liverpool team is extremely difficult. If you look at the clubs he’s been at – Wolves and PSV – we’re not talking about average clubs where you get a game if you’re half-decent. You’ve got to be the elite of the elite at that age to be playing. He’s got a really bright future ahead of him and I’m delighted we’ve got him.
“He’s come here as a really young lad and he’s played almost every game he’s been available. That tells you what we think of him.
“I pick the team on merit. You have to show you deserve to play. If you don’t deserve to play you won’t play. He isn’t in the team on a sympathy vote or anything other than when I watch him train, I’m really excited about what he’s got.”
Neil was also asked about the potential to sign Hoever on a permanent deal from Wolves. But he wouldn’t really be drawn on that.
He added: “(What happens next is) not something that either him or us are talking about at the moment. The window’s shut, Wolves will have their own ideas, Ki-Jana will have his own ideas, we’ll have our own ideas. That conversation is one for further down the line.”
Encouraging comments from Stoke boss Alex Neil on Ki-Jana Hoever after tricky start to 2022/23
Wolves officials will be really pleased to hear such words from Neil.
It has been a difficult past couple of years for Hoever, but there is no doubt there is a player in there.
He looked extremely promising when coming through at Liverpool.
It hasn’t quite happened for him back at Wolves and the PSV stint was disappointing.
But he seems to have gotten things together at Stoke and it will be interesting to watch his development from here.
Perhaps a strong end to the season will see Julen Lopetegui bring him back into the fold at Wolves.