The return of Jermaine Penitent

Posted by James Whittaker

Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesJermaine Pennant, left, is set to be reunited with Kenwyne Jones at Stoke

Local reports Tuesday indicated previously banished bad boy Jermaine Pennant would return to Stoke with a clean slate following his less-than-successful loan spell at Wolves.

It seems a stint in Wolverhampton was enough to make Jermaine apologise to manager Tony Pulis for previously undisclosed indiscretions that led to his recent exile from the Potteries. So is this latest message from the club meaningless and done solely to paint a more harmonious picture as they seek to get the best price for their once-prized asset; or is it a genuine olive branch from a manager who has seen his replacements struggle?

There is no doubting Pennant's ability. When on form he has the most accurate delivery of anyone in the top flight. His performances in his first season for Stoke were a breath of fresh air, bringing much-needed composure and guile on the right-hand side, not to mention a devastating delivery from both open and set play.

The front four of Kenwyne Jones, Jonathan Walters, Matthew Etherington and Pennant were a match for any defence. Based on the personnel at Pulis’ disposal, they still represent the best options on paper for the manager. Three of those four front men have recently been brought back together and the goals have flown in with the Potters looking a much more threatening prospect going forward than they have done for some time.

So, is Pennant the final piece of the attacking jigsaw to propel Stoke on to the top 10 finish they’re so desperate to achieve? I believe he is. Sadly, my opinion counts for very little and history would dictate that once you have crossed the manager there is little chance of redemption. Pulis would not only have to forgive and forget but he would have to sacrifice one or more of his most high-profile signings or lose the presence of Walters on the pitch, both of which seem unthinkable, to the capped one at least.

Hopefully it's a case of circumstance that will work in Jermaine’s favour and he too will fortuitously happen upon his chance to impress as Cameron Jerome and Jones both did with the injuries to Michael Owen and Peter Crouch. I think this is how his introduction will come about as I fear the manager will not be keen to rush him back to first-team contention as readily as the majority of the fans would.

If that happens, it's up to Pennant to take his chance and salvage his career. He's more than capable and he knows exactly what is expected of him, in fact, his work rate in the past has been remarkable. I just hope that both player and manager do all they can to turn the situation to Stoke's advantage as if they do then having Pennant back will be like a new signing that you KNOW will fit in, and that could prove priceless.

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