James Beattie will be allowed to leave Stoke City next month unless the striker can rediscover the form that made him such an instant hit when he joined the club for £3.5m from Sheffield United in January.
An uneasy truce has descended over Stoke after Beattie came to blows with manager Tony Pulis in the dressing room after Saturday's 2-0 defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, with Pulis dressed only in a towel.
Beattie has apologised for calling his manager a "liar" over arrangements for the players' Christmas party but Pulis is still considering moving him on in the January transfer window as he harbours doubts over the forward's commitment.
It is understood that Beattie asked to see Pulis in private following a team meeting at the club's training ground on Monday to draw a line under the affair. However, sources claim the manager refused to see him and an embarrassed Beattie has effectively been handed an ultimatum if he is to save his career at the Britannia Stadium.
Pulis remains disappointed with the lack of impact the 31-year-old former Everton and Southampton striker has had this season, scoring just two goals in 15 appearances. That is in stark contrast to the form Beattie showed in the second half of 2008-09, hitting seven goals in 16 games following his move from Bramall Lane.
Beattie was one of the chief reasons Stoke avoided relegation last season, after gaining promotion from the Championship in 2007-08, but there is a feeling at the club that he is resting upon his laurels. Pulis has made it clear the only way Beattie will avoid being moved on next month is to show an immediate improvement on the pitch.
He has 18-months of his contract still to run at Stoke and has been looking to open negotiations to extend that deal before it enters the final 12 months. However, Pulis will put any talks on hold until Beattie proves his commitment to the club.
His manager still harbours reservations about the influence Beattie has in the club's tight-knit dressing room and could come to the decision that selling him is the only way to prevent a break down of team morale.
The Blackburn Rovers manager, Sam Allardyce, would be keen to bring Beattie back to Ewood Park as he is still searching for a replacement for Roque Santa Cruz, who joined Manchester City in the summer. Hull City are also monitoring the situation, with Phil Brown looking for a solution to the club's lack of goals.Reuse content