Shea made to wait at Stoke
Brek Shea will have to wait until next season to try to make his mark at Stoke.
The American winger joined the club in January from FC Dallas but has made only two substitute appearances, most recently against West Ham two months ago. Since then Shea, who arrived at Stoke still recovering from a foot operation, has struggled even to feature in the matchday squad.
United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann was quoted last week saying Shea's lack of action may put his national team place in jeopardy, but Stoke manager Tony Pulis is not tempted to give him a run-out over the final three games of the season. Pulis said: "Brek hasn't been anywhere near it."
He continued: "We've looked at Brek and he's a smashing lad but fitness wise he came to the club when he'd just got over an injury, he'd been out for months.
"He's come here and I think he's enjoyed it but he's found it difficult at times. It's just making sure we look after him, we manage him well enough and then, when his time comes, his time comes.
"He was always one for next season. The football club didn't buy Brek to come in and change water into wine, that was never going to be the case. Him and (goalkeeper Jack) Butland in the January window were signings for the future, they weren't signings to help the team at that moment.
"Brek's only 23 years of age, he's come over from America and it's getting used to everything, getting used to the weather, the set-up. People sometimes don't take that into consideration."
Stoke travel to Sunderland looking to make it three wins in a row after successive victories against QPR and Norwich all but guaranteed a sixth consecutive season of Premier League football. And Pulis knows survival will always be the first target for the club.
"If we win the three remaining games, that will be the record number of points that we've returned in the Premiership," he added. "But that's the Premiership. There's thin lines between success and failure. Success for us, and it always will be, is actually staying in the Premiership. Anything else then is a bonus.
"We've got to maintain that focus. I don't think we can get above ourselves, there's seven or eight clubs who you can say are guaranteed Premier League football, the rest of us are fighting for our lives and that will happen unless something dramatic turns around."