Stoke City: Pulis backs winger Pennant
STOKE City manager Tony Pulis has given Jermaine Pennant a vote of confidence ahead of the winger's forthcoming court case.
Pennant is due before magistrates in Greater Manchester on Wednesday, May 9, after being charged with various motoring offences.
The 29-year-old Stoke star was also arrested over an alleged assault of a woman in a Manchester nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The winger has been bailed pending further inquiries into that incident.
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Pulis, speaking for the first time about Pennant's court case, would only say of his future: "He's got another year left on his contract."
He added: "It's unfortunate he's due to appear in court and we've got to deal with it. We have to take the approach that we will look after him."
However, Pulis admitted he could not make a judgment himself until all the facts came out in court.
"I'm in the dark about what did or did not happen," he explained. "I haven't spoken to anybody up there (in Manchester) about what it is or isn't.
"He's got a court case on May 9. We will see the situation when he gets to court.
"Come and see me after that and I will talk about it quite openly then."
Pennant was charged with drink driving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance after his white BMW was involved in a crash with a silver Audi near his luxury home in Altrincham at 5.20am on Sunday morning – some two hours after the alleged nightclub assault.
The Audi driver needed hospital treatment for a minor injury following the collision.
Pulis spoke with Pennant when he returned to the club for light training on Monday, but the winger missed Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Everton because of a hamstring injury.
Pulis has insisted that Pennant could yet prove his fitness and play for Stoke at QPR on Sunday.
The club must now await the outcome of Pennant's appearance at Trafford Magistrates next Wednesday before deciding their next move over his long-term future at the club.
A conviction and prison sentence could leave Stoke taking legal advice on the possibility of terminating his contract.
The winger said last month that he would love to stay at Stoke for next season, and also take up the option in his contract for a further one-year deal.
Stoke fans were puzzled earlier this season when Pennant was continually left out of Pulis's starting eleven.
Allegations then surfaced that he had gone AWOL before a Premier League game at Everton in December and an FA Cup tie at Crawley in February.
Pennant vigorously denied the allegations, insisting he had a family matter to deal with before the Everton game, while he didn't travel to Crawley after being omitted from the squad.
Martin Smith column: Page 51