Stoke manager Mark Hughes has today defended his decision to hand Jermaine Pennant a new contract, after he was unable to join the Potters’ tour of America.

Pennant fell out of favour at Stoke under former manager Tony Pulis and was sent out on loan to Wolves, but when the club decided not to make his move permanent the winger returned back to Stoke. An exit appeared likely, but the former Arsenal starlet has been handed a reprieve.

New manager Mark Hughes sees potential in Pennant, and believes that the 30- year-old might flourish if given the chance at the Britannia Stadium.

"He has never been given an opportunity here. He loves the club, he didn’t want to leave. He thought possibly he would have to but things change very quickly in football and he’s got another chance,” said Hughes.

“I’m sure he’ll take it because he’s a good guy and he works hard. I think people sometimes get the wrong impression of Jermaine but he wants to play football and he wants to make an impression for us.”

Pennant didn’t travel to Stoke for their pre-season tour of America because he was banned from entering the US because of his criminal record, which means he missed out on a massive chunk of pre-season. However, he stayed in Stoke and played some of the U21’s matches to stay fit.

He was however involved in Stoke’s 1-0 win over Wrexham yesterday (Sunday), and looked just a lively as his first few months in Staffordshire.

Hughes said: “Unfortunately we couldn’t take him to America, everybody understands the circumstances, but he’s been with the under-21s and he’s been first class.

“Glyn Hodges gave him a glowing report in terms of his attitude to the games he’s played and being in and around the under-21 guys. I was really pleased to hear that.”

Stoke's next game and last pre-season match is at the home against Italian outfit Genoa. Pennant is expected to feature in the clash.


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