Stoke: First - the clear out
Tony Pulis has begun the first stage of his plan to build a team that's able to keep us in the Premier League with the release of this year's retained list.
Pulis gave notice after the Arsenal debacle just over a week ago that he is intent on clearing out the dead wood and this seems to have begun with the news that Vincent Pericard has been released. It was not a great surprise as the striker has been one of Tone's few real failures after he was signed from Portsmouth in the wake of Pulis' return to the Brit three years ago. He failed to make any real impact on the first team front line - not helped by a spell at 'Her Majesty's Pleasure' in 2007 for lying to the courts about a driving offence.
Three other squad players have also been released: Tom Thorley, Jimmy Phillips and Marc Grocott. All three had yet to make their first team debuts, but are still young enough to be able to find, hopefully, good opportunities with other clubs.
There was also confirmation that Henri Camara and Stephen Kelly have returned to Wigan and Birmingham City respectively after their loan spells at Stoke. Neither really made an impact, but that was probably more to do with not being able to break into a steady starting eleven rather than any lack of ability.
One player who is back at the Brit and could cause the manager some sleeplessness is Dave Kitson. The striker, who failed to score in 18 appearances for the Potters last season, had been on loan at Reading for the last few weeks and a deal had apparently been agreed for him to return to his former club for around £4.8m IF the Royals had achieved promotion. Both the club and the player must now be wondering what the future holds as it now seems very unlikely that any other club will come anywhere close to the £5.5m we paid for him just twelve months ago.
Two players have been offered new contracts. Danzelle St Louis Hamilton, currently third choice keeper, has accepted a new one year contract. Salif Diao is still pondering on his offer of another year amid media reports that he's not happy with the deal that's on the table and may look at leaving the club.
With several other fringe players still under contract but struggling for first team action, there is also likely to be some transfer movement out of the club over the next three months.
One player who seems keen to stay is Liam Lawrence. He earned his first international cap for the Republic of Ireland last weekend and is said to be ready to sign an extension to his current contract.
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