Whelan in limbo as Stoke turn down loans

Aidan Fitzmaurice

GLENN Whelan has been left in limbo after Stoke City turned down two loan bids for the Ireland man as the Potters are only interested in a cash deal.

Former Sheffield Wednesday man Whelan is a key figure for Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni but he has slipped way down the pecking order at Stoke this season.

Whelan has not started a league game for the club since September and he has grown frustrated at the lack of chances in Tony Pulis' side.

West Brom, Wolves and Cardiff City were all linked with the Dubliner before the transfer window opened and Mick McCarthy was reportedly lining up a deal for Whelan, but it fell short of Stoke's asking price of £2m up front and a further £1m in follow-on clauses.

This week Wolves and West Brom have made attempts to bring in Whelan on loan but those offers have been knocked back by Stoke, who are only interested in a permanent deal with a club willing to pay the £2m fee.

That has left Whelan frustrated as he is desperate to play so he can retain his place in Ireland's midfield.

Whelan has made 19 appearances for Stoke this season but he's started just seven times and most of those games have come in the FA Cup or Carling Cup -- a run of 18 Premier League games without a start for the 27-year-old.

Meanwhile, Whelan's ex-Manchester City team-mate Stephen Ireland is on the move as Bolton Wanderers look to bring the Cork native in on loan at the Reebok Stadium.


Ireland is unsettled at Aston Villa after his move there in the summer, and Gerard Houllier has made it clear that the midfielder is not in his plans.

Several clubs were linked with Ireland but they were scared off by his wage demands. However, Owen Coyle is willing to come close to his €60,000-a-week pay packet and offer Ireland first-team football.

A move to Bolton would also suit Ireland for family reasons as he has retained his house in the Manchester area since leaving City last year.

Elsewhere, Stephen Ward says he wants to stay at Wolves for the rest of his career.

The ex-Bohemians man has been a key player for Mick McCarthy this season and, while he has 18 months left on his contract at Molineux, Ward would love to sign for life.

"Long term, I would hope to stay with Wolves," he said. "I love it here. I have loved it from day one really.

"Since I came here, the team have gone from strength to strength. Every year we have improved and getting to the Premier League topped it all off."