Bruce offers Pennant a lifeline

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The Independent Online

The Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce, insists Jermaine Pennant still has a future at the club despite the winger being handed a three-month jail sentence for driving offences. Bruce has vowed to support the rehabilitation of the 22-year-old, on loan from Arsenal for the rest of the season, when he comes out of prison.

The Birmingham City manager, Steve Bruce, insists Jermaine Pennant still has a future at the club despite the winger being handed a three-month jail sentence for driving offences. Bruce has vowed to support the rehabilitation of the 22-year-old, on loan from Arsenal for the rest of the season, when he comes out of prison.

However, he also revealed that Birmingham would be keen to make a permanent move for the player when his contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the season. "There's a deal to be struck with Arsenal," Bruce said. "I told him that before he went to court and I hope he appreciates that. It will all be resolved in the next six to eight weeks."

Bruce added that Pennant would need guidance when he is released from prison. "We knew when he first took him that he had this [case] hanging over him and what we'll try to do is obviously help," he said. "He has to serve his punishment. We hope that that gives him a shock. What is important for Jermaine is that when he does come out, there are people there to support him. People go to prison and when they come out their world has ended because they can't get a job. But he has a job and he is a very skilled performer."

Bruce is confident Pennant will return a stronger individual after serving his sentence. "I'm sure he has the mental toughness to learn from it. It's very difficult for him but he has to serve it. Prisons are there to rehabilitate people. But the one thing you have to do is to learn in life what is right and what is wrong."

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