Stoke boss Alex Neil wants to keep Axel Tuanzebe fit for season run-in

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Stoke, who are 17th in the Championship, went close to equalising in the 65th minute through Tuanzebe but were unable to grab a draw in the 1-0 home defeat. Tuanzebe, signed last month, was starting a match for the first time since January 2022, when he was on loan at Napoli. When asked if Tuanzebe was ready for a lot more, Stoke boss Alex Neil said: "I hope so. Axel's obviously a top player, it's just his tolerance levels in terms of what his body can get through, that's going to be the question. "He's been in really good shape. I thought his performance was excellent against top opponents, considering that's his first proper game in I think 14 months. I think he deserves huge amounts of credit.

"His tolerance levels are unknown - it's not as if it's a problem I foresee for Axel, he may well go and rattle out the rest of the games until the end of the season.

"But ultimately, when you've been out for 14 months, how much can your body handle before it starts to break itself down? I know how you try to manage players back, to try to make sure we don't over-expose them." Neil, who made seven changes to his starting line-up to Brighton's five, added of Stoke's display as a whole: "I thought we more than did ourselves justice. I thought the lads left everything on the pitch, I don't think we could ask much more of them."

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