Pennant desperate for final glory
Jermaine Pennant is hoping he will finally get the chance to play in an FA Cup final with Stoke this season after eight near misses.
The Potters take on Bolton in the last four at Wembley on Sunday for the right to meet either Manchester United or Manchester City in the showpiece next month. Pennant played in Liverpool's Champions League final defeat by AC Milan in 2007, but the winger has consistently missed out England's premier cup competition and he desperately wants to be part of it this time.
"It got brought to my attention not long ago that I keep missing out. I played at the old Wembley but not the new one," said the 28-year-old. "Everyone wants to play there - massive stadium, big pitch, great atmosphere - so I'm looking forward to it."
He was at Arsenal in 2001 and 2002 but was left out of the squad on both occasions, while he was cup-tied when Southampton played the Gunners a year later. Arsenal reached the final again in 2005, when Pennant was on loan at Birmingham, and his spells with Liverpool and Portsmouth came just at the wrong time to play a part in their final exploits.
The only previous time Pennant has played at the national stadium came more than a decade ago in a match between England Under-16s and an Argentina Under-16s side containing Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez. They could yet meet again on May 14, and Pennant is confident the wide open spaces of Wembley will suit Stoke.
Pennant and fellow winger Matthew Etherington have been two of the standout performers for Tony Pulis' side, but the former Notts County trainee admits the position has its downsides.
"We went down to Wembley last Monday and went on the pitch," said Pennant. "It's big, so you're going to get your space and time, which is very good for a winger.
"But then you have got to look on the bad side, and you've got your working back to do as well. So it's got its ups and downs."
Etherington's good form has seen him linked with an England call-up, but Pennant accepts his past problems, including a spell in jail in 2005 for a drink-driving offence, will count against him.
"If you can't rub it off, you can't do anything about it," added Pennant, who has recently considered playing for the Republic of Ireland. "You've got to live with it. It was my fault so I have got to take the consequences. All I can do is play the best football I can for Stoke. If anyone wants to talk about England recognition, that's up to them. But I'm not holding my breath."