Speculation surrounding Joe Allen's future is expected to intensify as we head towards the January window.

Having previously been persuaded to stay at Stoke City following their relegation to the Championship, Allen's desire to return to the Premier League, particularly ahead of the upcoming European Championships, is becoming one of Welsh football's worst kept secrets.

Several top-flight suitors have previously expressed an interest in making a move, including Newcastle United, Wolves, West Ham and Burnley , and yet Allen remains a Stoke player.

The main sticking point preventing a move in the summer was the price tag demanded by the Potters, which was understood to be in the region of £18m.

As time has gone on, and with Stoke looking highly unlikely to live up to the promise of a meaningful promotion challenge that was key in persuading Allen to stay, there has since been a suggestion that they will have to revisit that valuation.

Allen is one of the club's big earners and, with Stoke now facing another cut in their parachute payments, it does feel as though something will have to give, with the club already posting of around £30m shortly before their relegation to the second tier.

With the prospect of falling foul to financial fair play looming over their heads, there is now a feeling within the club that Allen is just one of a number of players who will simply have to be moved on sooner rather than later.

Michael O'Neill looks likely to come under pressure to move on some of his biggest stars

According to the Daily Telegraph , the exodus could well begin this week, with Turkish side Trabzonspor reportedly poised to complete a loan move with an option to buy for £14m signing Badou Ndiaye.

Getting his £35,000-a-week salary off the books is likely to ease some of the financial pressures, but given that the Potters' wage bill is believed to stand at around £50m, there will surely be more to follow.

The likes of Jack Butland, Peter Etebo, Nick Powell and Bruno Martins Indi are all expected to be made available.

However, interestingly, boss Michael O'Neill is clearly not in the mood to entertain the thought of a departure for Allen.

"I’m not particularly concerned (about the gossip)," he said recently. "There’s been speculation from the media, created by the media, and then I have to answer a question on it!

"Joe’s a terrific player. He leads by example. His level of performance is excellent. He’s the one player, I think, who isn’t affected by the situation if I’m honest. Joe will go and play, he takes the ball under pressure and he tries to lift the level of the team.

"Joe is an extremely important player for me. I can’t control speculation, I can’t control the situation. If it ever arose we would have to deal with it if and when it arises."

Allen, it's worth stressing, has shown little sign of forcing a move through, but despite O'Neill's bullishness on the subject, it's understood that the midfielder is still likely to move on if the club receives an acceptable offer, which is likely to be substantially less than the £18m quoted in the summer.

If Allen is handed a price tag deemed suitable by those that expressed an interest a few months ago, it might not be long until we see Allen back where he belongs and in the Premier League.