Relegated Stoke City need to look at their “farcical” transfer dealings before signing the players needed to mount a return to the Premier League, says goalkeeper Jack Butland.
The Potters dropped into the second tier Championship following a home defeat by Crystal Palace on Saturday.
England keeper Butland blamed “players you cannot rely on” being signed by the club.
“The whole recruitment process needs looking at, to be honest,” he said.
Former Real Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez scored one goal in 13 appearances during his loan spell from Paris St-Germain and has taken unpaid compassionate leave for the remainder of his contract.
Forward Saido Berahino has started just 11 games since being signed from West Brom for £12m in January 2017 and has never scored for the club. He is now training with the under-23s, as is defender Kevin Wimmer, an £18m signing from Tottenham last summer.
Record signing Giannelli Imbula, a midfielder who cost £18.3m from Porto, has spent this season on loan at French side Toulouse.
Meanwhile, two former Barcelona forwards, Ibrahim Afellay and Bojan Krkic, have been frozen out at the Bet365 Stadium, with the latter spending this season on loan at La Liga side Alaves.
“There’s been transfers that aren’t even part of the squad for all kinds of reasons, whether it be discipline, whether it be lack of performance,” Butland, 25, said.
“You’ve got to look at that – what decisions are being made and the type of characters.”
He said midfielder Badou Ndiaye and defender Moritz Bauer, who joined in January, were “two positive signings”.
“But you look at others and they’re not even here to have an input. It’s not because they were playing at the top of their game, because if they were they’d be here,” he continued.
“Too many of the recent investments, and over the years, are completely unused and that’s unacceptable. So before anyone is signed and any changes happen that’s got to be looked at because it’s been farcical really.”
Paul Lambert replaced Mark Hughes as manager in January following Stoke’s FA Cup third round defeat at League Two Coventry City. However, Stoke have managed just one league win under the Scot.
“I believe Paul’s had an extremely difficult job,” Butland said. “He inherited a squad where, unfortunately, there was ill-discipline and players you cannot rely on.
“Despite those scenarios he’s put together a really competitive side that’s willing to work for him.
“I believe the manager is the right man for the job.”
Stoke’s final game of the season is a trip to Swansea City – who are also in danger of relegation – on Sunday.
BBC Sport chief football writer Phil McNulty
Paul Lambert has paid the price on the ticket for relegation but this journey out of the Premier League was well under way before he succeeded Mark Hughes.
The mediocre end to last season carried on into this campaign, not helped by a poor transfer strategy that was unable to provide the improvement clearly needed after that indifferent 2016-17 season.
Read more from Phil McNulty here.
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