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This week in transfers: Stoke swoop for Bardsley, line up Diouf deal

Stoke City, 125/1 outsiders with Coral to crash the Premier League’s top four next term, have agreed to sign Sunderland full back Phil Bardsley when his contract at the Stadium of Light expires.

The former Manchester United player, 28, comes to the Britannia Stadium on a three-year deal and will officially join the Potters on July 1st when he becomes a free agent. Bardsley spent six-and-a-half years on Wearside, making 200 appearances in all competitions.

Gus Poyet has also given Black Cats midfielder Craig Gardner a free transfer, because his contract was up too. He is set to return to the West Midlands, having agreed to join West Bromwich Albion.

Former Aston Villa and Birmingham City defender Gardner, 27, can cover right back, which may be useful to the Baggies as Steven Reid is leaving The Hawthorns and Billy Jones is out of contract.

Two of Bardsley’s Sunderland teammates Jack Colback and Keiren Westwood are also set to leave the Stadium of Light.

In other Stoke news, manager Mark Hughes is set to sign another ex-Red Devil in Hannover striker Mame Biram Diouf. The 26-year-old becomes a free agent this summer as his deal with the Bundesliga outfit expires.

Newly promoted Leicester City are bringing in experienced centre back Matt Upson after he rejected a new deal at Championship play-off flops Brighton.

The Foxes, who are 15/8 to be relegated straight away next term, have also extended Poland international Marcin Wasilewski’s stay at the King Power Stadium for another season.

West Ham, meanwhile, have announced they will be releasing left-sided defender George McCartney, veteran midfielder Joe Cole and Jack Collison.

Across London, relegated Fulham are letting this season’s top scorer Steve Sidwell go, alongside other 30-somethings Derek Boateng, Mahamdou Diarra, Giorgos Karagounis and John Arne Riise as Felix Magath prepares for life in the Championship.

Despite 14 years of loyal service, Newcastle are allowing target man Shola Ameobi to leave St James’ Park. Loan star Loic Remy and temporary flop Luuk de Jong are not being signed permanently, so the injured Papiss Cisse is the only senior centre forward Alan Pardew has on the books.

Hull are releasing club captain Robert Koren and veteran defender Abdoulaye Faye, while Cardiff have captured Austrian midfielder Guido Burgstaller, 25, from Rapid Vienna for an undisclosed fee.

Bluebirds boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has also confirmed versatile pair Tommy Smith and Simon Lappin will be leaving the Welsh capital, but he is offering a new deal to Don Cowie.