Stoke City's Jese Rodriguez ready to step up in the crucial stage of the season
Spanish forward Jese Rodriguez is ready to step up and deliver for Stoke City as the relegation-threatened side enters the crucial stage of the season.
The 25-year-old's main focus this campaign has been on caring for his youngest son, Nyan, who remains in hospital in Spain battling complications from his premature birth last summer.
"It's something I don't wish on anyone, it's a very difficult situation and you suffer a lot. All things considered, my boy is improving and thanks to God he is better.
"I have to fight for him and for the other two [children] that I have. But I"m certain people will return to see the best Jese."
It was his eighth league start and his first since Oct. 21.
"I've been away from the pitch for a long time because of my son's condition," Jese said. "But now that the boy is improving, I have to make the most of the remaining games we have, which are very important for me and for the team."
Monday's loss left Stoke 19th in the Premier League standings, two places and one point adrift of Southampton, who hold the last position of safety with eight games remaining.
"It was always going to be very difficult against Manchester City because they are just too good and play with a lot of intensity," Jese said. "But on Saturday we have a final against Everton, a game that we have to win at all costs. We are playing at home and we must make the most of it."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.