Stoke City: Kenywne Jones makes strong case for first-team spot, says Dave Kemp
STOKE assistant manager Dave Kemp says Kenywne Jones has made a strong case to keep his first-team spot as City assess Peter Crouch's fitness.
England striker Crouch had a gum-shield fitted yesterday to become a contender for Stoke's game at Aston Villa on Saturday.
He missed last week's win at West Brom as he recovered from an operation after losing two teeth and having two more pushed up into his gum in a collision with Newcastle's Fabricio Coloccini.
City will monitor Crouch in training before deciding whether he should go back into the starting line-up at Villa Park.
Kemp says Jones has done his own cause no harm with his all action-performance in City's 1-0 win at West Brom last Saturday.
He said: "Kenwyne was brilliant. He did well coming on as a sub in three games before Saturday, then when he got his chance at West Brom he was very impressive. Hopefully he can stay at that standard."
If Crouch is passed fit, the selection for the lone striker role is likely to be a close call.
City would be reluctant to leave out Crouch, who has scored 19 goals in his 55 Stoke games and been a consistent performer since his £10m move from Spurs.
Crouch volunteered to play at the Hawthorns, but was left out on doctor's orders.
Kemp said: "He'll get the best medical attention and I am sure he will be fine, but it must have been very painful.
"We'll have to see how long he has to wear the shield and will make a decision about Saturday."
Cameron Jerome is set to train today after recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the warm-up at West Brom.
Fellow striker Michael Owen has revealed on Twitter that he expects to be fit to train today or tomorrow after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Kemp has been delighted with Ryan Shotton's performances since he came into the side for the injured Andy Wilkinson four games ago.
Kemp said: "Ryan took a giant step forward last season, playing in a number of positions.
"I think playing in Europe and the Premier League took its toll on him, but he has waited for his opportunity and really taken it this season."
STOKE'S scouts were at Crewe's Johnstone's Paint Trophy win over Doncaster on Tuesday, although their most likely target Luke Murphy was rested.
The 23-year-old is expected to be Crewe's next big-money sale after his former central midfield partner Ashley Westwood was sold to Premier League Aston Villa for £2m in August.
The Crewe academy graduate is under contract until the summer of 2014, but the Alex are bracing themselves for offers.
THE East Stand at the Britannia Stadium will remain 'The Seddon Stand' for at least another three years.
Maintenance, painting and construction company Seddon Group have signed a new contract with the Potters to continue a partnership which started in 2007.