Stoke City: Who is ready to step into Kenwyne Jones' shooting boots if he goes?
BE honest, not so long ago the chances of Kenwyne Jones replacing Peter Crouch as Stoke’s first-choice striker seemed about as likely as Wilson Palacios ousting Steven Nzonzi from central midfield.
Jones had long been cutting a depressed and lonely figure on the sidelines after losing his place to Crouch nearly a season-and-a-half earlier.
And he’d gone well over a year since scoring in the Premier League.
But along came that collision in late November that was to leave Crouch hot-footing it to the dentist and Jones enjoying his unlikely renaissance.
Special K has since scored four goals in eight starts and two sub appearances to resurrect his fortunes in a manner few could have anticipated.
It’s not about mere figures alone, however, for the big fella has also begun to win over those cynics long questioning his desire and concerned by his body language.
Whatever the reason – be it the chance he has long been waiting for, or the bright lights of the shop window with January approaching – Jones has grabbed his opportunity with such speed that he is now the club’s number one striker.
Whisper it quietly, there are even echoes of the form we witnessed in the latter half of his first season at Stoke (2010/11) when he helped steer the club all the way to an FA Cup Final.
A fully-fired up Kenwyne Jones will always produce a greater physical threat than Peter Crouch can ever hope to do with his slighter frame.
Jones can work defenders – bully them even – when in the kind of mood grabbing him over the last couple of months.
Something has fired his burners and, given enough supply from the flanks, the results can be potentially devastating in front of goal.
Crouch, meanwhile, appears to be suffering markedly by comparison.
His greater technical ability will always mark him out as a better team player when the football is more methodical and less direct.
But rarely has he looked like adding to his goal tally during his few glimpses of first-team football since that awful mouth injury against Newcastle on November 28.
Indeed, whether it’s lack of chances, or his failure to anticipate the fare on offer, the net result has been the sight of the former England man snatching at the two best chances to come Stoke’s way in the first FA Cup meeting with Crystal Palace.
And in the second, last Tuesday’s replay at the Britannia, you are hard pressed to recall Crouch threatening anything close to goal.
What a stark contrast to the trouble Jones immediately caused when he stepped off the bench to start hounding admittedly tiring defenders.
And while there was some luck about his goal after the keeper virtually threw the ball into the back of his own net, the point was that Jones was once again attacking a high cross tossed into his vicinity.
It’s the old Kenwyne Jones and it’s a sight to behold.
We just don’t know how long it will last.
And if it does come to an end, will it be because he is sold, or because he remains here and starts losing his edge once more after the January window closes?