Latest charge leaves Pennant in limbo

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The Independent Football

Jermaine Pennant's once-blossoming career was at the crossroads last night, his talent for self-destruction having outweighed his skill on a football pitch and prompted Birmingham City to put on hold a move to take the troubled Arsenal and England Under-21 winger on loan.

Jermaine Pennant's once-blossoming career was at the crossroads last night, his talent for self-destruction having outweighed his skill on a football pitch and prompted Birmingham City to put on hold a move to take the troubled Arsenal and England Under-21 winger on loan.

Pennant, 22, was charged with drink-driving after crashing Ashley Cole's Mercedes-Benz into a lamp-post in the early hours of Sunday, his second such brush with the law in 11 months. Arsenal's desire to sell him, rather than let a rival club borrow him as Leeds United did last season, swiftly gave way to their agreeing his temporary switch to Birmingham.

However, a statement from St Andrew's yesterday said that Pennant's "circumstances" meant that the signing could not go ahead "at the present time". It added that Birmingham still hope to conclude the arrangement before the transfer window closes and expect the position to become clearer "over the next few days".

What is clear is that Pennant's days at Highbury are numbered. A prodigy, he was a £2m recruit from Notts County six years ago, but various misdemeanours, including being banished from the Under-21 squad for breaking a curfew, have led Arsenal to decide he lacks the discipline to fulfil his potential.

Pennant, whose contract expires in the summer, had made 12 appearances since returning from Leeds. But Arsène Wenger, who helped Tony Adams face up to his social excesses, remained unconvinced by his attitude and was already keen to sell him before he was charged.

¿ Arsenal said they may contest the misconduct charge against Kolo Touré after he elbowed Alan Shearer in the back during Newcastle's visit to Highbury on Sunday.

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