Football

Stoke City Vs Liverpool, Sat 13 Nov 2010

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Stoke manager Tony Pulis expects Jermaine Pennant to go full throttle against former club Liverpool.

The winger is hoping to secure a permanent deal at the Britannia Stadium having joined on a season-long loan from Real Zaragoza.

The 27-year-old has yet to complete 90 minutes for the Potters but impressed on his return to the starting line-up in Tuesday's Barclays Premier League win over another of his old clubs in Birmingham.

Pulis now wants him to maintain that form as he comes up against the club that released him last year.

"Jermaine has done smashing," Pulis said. "His fitness levels have been a little bit low but he has been playing abroad and maybe not working as hard as some of our players work.

"But I thought on Tuesday he was absolutely brilliant. We're hoping he continues and I am sure he will be looking forward to this game immensely.

"We're hoping he puts in a similar performance - if selected."

Pennant spent time on loan at Portsmouth after being frozen out by former Anfield boss Rafael Benitez and joined Zaragoza in the summer of 2009.

Pennant left Britannia Stadium field on Tuesday with Stoke seemingly cruising to victory at 2-0.

But the Potters were made to battle as Blues battled back to 2-2 with a quickfire double.

It was left to Dean Whitehead to settle home nerves five minutes from time with a winner that ensured Stoke would finally end their losing run."

Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross is back in contention after serving a suspension.

Pulis will assess Ricardo Fuller having hinted the striker, only recently returned from a shoulder injury, could be rested.

Tuncay, who was rested on Tuesday, is in the squad while the Potters have no other major injury concerns ahead of the game at the Britannia Stadium.

Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina was happy to commit himself to the club after being impressed by owner John Henry's vision of the future.

However, New England Sports Ventures are going to have to back up some of their pledges with firm action in the coming months if they are to avoid to further speculation about their players being unhappy.

Reina, who has been the subject of rumours since the summer, flatly dismissed claims he had asked manager Roy Hodgson to leave.

The 28-year-old insisted he was fully committed to the six-year contract he signed at the back end of last season.

"Our new owner met me and some of the other players last week and I was very happy with what he told me," said the Spain international.

"The entire squad and staff are working very hard to get us back competing at the top of the table. We will not be distracted by inaccurate media speculation."

On his own position Reina added: "I have not told the manager that I wish to leave in January or at any time.

"I have seen a newspaper has made this suggestion. It is completely untrue.

"It is important our fans know this. I have a long-term contract at the club and am fully committed to the club."

Having put the speculation to bed Reina will take his place between the posts for the Barclays Premier League clash against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

And while he can now fully focus on the game, Hodgson has to work out a way of curing their appalling away form after insisting there is no "no magical solution".

Wednesday's 1-1 draw at Wigan - coming after three successive Barclays Premier League victories - means the Reds have taken just five points from six matches on the road.

In fact, Liverpool's win at Bolton at the end of last month was the first since they beat relegated Burnley at Turf Moor in April and was only their third in 11 months.

Next up is Stoke at the Britannia Stadium, traditionally a fortress for the Potters, on Saturday and Hodgson knows his side cannot afford another lacklustre display like the one in midweek.

"If you are not playing well there is no magical solution to that," said the 63-year-old.

"You build up solutions to picking up points on the road by playing well.

"You have to go to Stoke and try to deal with the problems they cause you.

"We've taken a point at Birmingham, won at Bolton and taken a point at Wigan so it is not that catastrophic."

Having been without six key players at Wigan - defenders Sotirios Kyrgiakos (tonsillitis), Daniel Agger (calf), Fabio Aurelio (Achilles) and Glen Johnson (groin) and midfielders Joe Cole (hamstring) and Ryan Babel (ribs) and back-up goalkeeper Brad Jones - Hodgson lost Raul Meireles to sickness at half-time.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Jermaine Pennant
Football
Premier League

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