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By ESPN Staff

Pulis denies Pennant rift

Stoke boss Tony Pulis insists there is no problem between him and Potters winger Jermaine Pennant.

• Pennant plays down rift talk

Having previously been a key figure for the club, Pennant has only made a handful of starts since early December.

Pulis has played down any suggestion of a rift with the former Liverpool and Arsenal midfielder and is keen to point out the form of the man who has been occupying Pennant's place on the right flank for Stoke, 23-year-old Ryan Shotton, who is enjoying an impressive breakthrough season.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League clash with Norwich at the Britannia Stadium, Pulis said: "Anything I do with players, it is between me and the players, but there are no problems.

"I have a lad called Ryan Shotton who I thought was outstanding against Swansea (last weekend's 2-0 home victory in the league) and is playing well.

"He is a young lad, born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent and playing on the same side as another player who is born and bred in Stoke-on-Trent (right-back Andy Wilkinson), which is fantastic.

"I have been criticised at this football club for not playing young players, or for playing certain players and not others. That is just what happens - it is part and parcel of the game and you have to accept it and get on with it.

"The thing all managers do is pick teams to win games, because if they don't win games they don't keep their jobs. So I pick a team that I think is going to win a game of football, whether I like players, dislike them or think they are good or bad for the group.

"There will be people who want to make an issue of it because it is Jermaine. If so, fine, but there isn't an issue with me and he has not been in to see me. He has got on with it and trained well, so it's fine - not a problem.''

Stoke go into this weekend's game having arrested a run of four successive league defeats by beating Swansea.

Potters defender Matthew Upson scored his first goal for the club in the match, having looked set to leave the Britannia Stadium not long ago.

Upson was recently linked with a move to Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua but the transfer did not materialise, with Pulis revealing that Stoke's demands for a fee were a stumbling block. The manager now hopes Upson can push on with his Potters career.

"He knows what's going on, there's no hidden secrets," Pulis said in The Sentinel. "It was an unbelievable offer and he had to look at it, but the club wanted money for him and that was between Matthew and the club.

"He's got another year left on his contract with us and I've always said how pleased I have been with him, both on and off the field."

Meanwhile, Pulis has confirmed that he is looking to send Uruguayan midfielder Diego Arismendi out on loan to a Championship club in order to boost his experience of English football.


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