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Pennant pledges future to Stoke

Jermaine Pennant says he is determined to put a difficult 12 months behind him and has pledged his allegiance to Stoke City.

The winger's future at the Britannia Stadium has been the subject of speculation amid off-field problems and manager Tony Pulis's acquisition of Michael Kightly from Wolves.

Pennant was twice accused of going AWOL during the last campaign, and a recent drink-drive conviction cast further doubts over his Stoke future.

Allegations of a breakdown in relations with boss Pulis led to rumours that he would be leaving to join Wigan Athletic as a replacement for Victor Moses.

But Pennant has made it clear that he intends to remain at the Britannia and fight for his place as Stoke look to extend their top flight stay to five seasons. "The fans might have been wondering if I might be going. I respect the fans a lot and said I would always be honest with them," he told the Stoke Sentinel.

"If for one moment I was thinking of packing my bags, then I would tell them straight up - but I have never said or indicated that I wanted to leave.

"The first I knew about the Wigan story was on Twitter when somebody asked if I was going. No-one spoke to me or my agent. I think it was just speculation because we'd just signed Michael Kightly."

Pennant has declared himself fit for the season's opener against Reading, and said he wants to put last season behind him. He added: "It's been very up and down. It's not how I wanted it to go, but that is life. You've got to deal with what comes your way. It's a new season now, a fresh start."

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