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Oct 31, 2012

Wilkinson still bitter over ban

Andy Wilkinson is still unhappy with the Football Association for the retrospective ban which has forced him into a gamble to reclaim his place at Stoke City.

Wilkinson has just returned from the three-match suspension he was handed by the FA after being convicted by video evidence for a flailing hand in the face of Mario Balotelli and is now considering operating as an emergency left-back to return to Tony Pulis' starting XI.

The right-back has volunteered to Pulis to fill in for Marc Wilson, who is out of action for three months with a broken leg, as he looks to repair the damage for what he still feels was an excessive punishment from the FA. Manchester City striker Balotelli's theatrical reaction last month alerted the FA after the incident had gone unpunished during the game, and Wilkinson has subsequently lost his position in the side to USA defender Geoff Cameron.

"It was a harsh punishment and it certainly cost me," he said. "You've seen similar incidents go unpunished. We have a really good squad now and so getting back into the team when you're out is really difficult.

"But overall I cannot complain with life too much. I look at what I have at Stoke City and I know I am a very lucky individual."

Wilson's injury leaves Pulis without a recognised left-back and may prompt a January transfer market move, with Blackburn's Sweden international Martin Olsson still on the Welshman's list of possibilities.

Stoke were put off by Blackburn's £8 million asking price in the summer and also lost out to West Bromwich Albion for Macedonian international Goran Popov.

Until the January transfer window opens, Wilkinson is willing to fill what has been a problematic position for Pulis for the last couple of seasons.

"It's down to the gaffer who plays there, but I'm ready," Wilkinson added. "If you look at how many games I've played there, I've played quite a few at left-back. Yes, it is more unnatural to me as a right-footer, but it's nothing I can't deal with."

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