Pennant to return to the Potteries?

Posted by James Whittaker

Jermaine PennantPA Photos

It was claimed last week that, whilst he was no longer under contract with the club, Jermaine Pennant's future at Stoke City wasn't necessarily over and a meeting has been scheduled for the player to meet Mark Hughes to discuss a potential new deal.

Whilst many are happy at the prospect of a player of Pennant's undoubted ability pulling on the red and white shirt once more, there are some who feel that his recent exclusion from proceedings was justified. The fact is that no-one truly understands the reasons behind his omission, with confusion and bemusement still surrounding his last year in the Potteries from both his team-mates and the player himself.

- Pennant could extend stay at Stoke

We know that the former manager, Tony Pulis, was keen to make a point in respect of certain players, seemingly against those who tend to have flair and ability, with the likes of Carl Hoefkens, Tuncay and Charlie Adam suffering a similar fate. It's those players who the fans are so eager to see involved and the frustration of having such talents available only for them not to be used became a continued source of frustration amongst the fans.

Of course, at the time Pulis would give his reasons for those exclusions but more often than not they would fly in the face of logic and serve only to confuse further those fans who felt he should be utilising the best players available to him. The fact that Pennant stayed at Stoke pointed to their being no breaches of contract. More tellingly, the fact he was never fined only fuels the fire of the view that Pulis' decisions weren't always dictated by what was best for the side to win football matches; something he himself has alluded to in the past when speaking about his first spell under the Icelandic owners.

The bottom line is that Jermaine has never let his team-mates down on the pitch, in fact around this time last year he was training hard in preparation for the new season, eager to repay the faith of the City faithful following his well publicised personal indiscretions. Some will point to his ill fated spell at Wolves as a reason he shouldn't be signed, but plenty of talented players struggled to turnaround the fate of that particular club, who have long been in big trouble, culminating in their latest relegation to League One.

What Mark Hughes has now is an opportunity, a chance to start afresh and pick up a player with some of the best crossing statistics in the top flight, on a free. It's perhaps Pennant's last chance at Stoke and one he is eager to grasp with both hands, where he will hopefully be judged solely by what he brings to the side on the pitch.

That is, of course, dependent on whether or not Hughes decides to give him a chance, it may well be that he has other options; David Bentley would be the obvious one for the right side. Much like Charlie Adam, Pennant will hopefully be central to what Hughes wants to bring back to the club. If either player could reproduce anything close to their best form, then whoever starts up top will be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of getting on the end of that quality of delivery.

Vis Unita Fortior

ESPN Conversations