Stoke City have emerged as surprise favourites to sign Stephen Warnock in the summer, in a deal speculated to be worth around £4m. The England international left-back hasn’t played at all in 2011, having last started a game on the 28th December in the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City. Prior to that Warnock had completed the entire 90 minutes in all but one of the league matches in the first half of the season.
The drubbing at Eastlands was what Houllier described as his lowest moment as Villa manager, and rumours were rife that he had fallen out with a number of the players in the staring XI that night including youngsters Albrighton and Lichaj who both conceded penalties. Warnock appears to have been the worst victim of this supposed fall out and seems all but certain to leave the club having been dropped to the reserves, captaining the second string from centre-midfield in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Wigan. The 29-year-old was keen to leave the club in January and moves to former clubs Blackburn and Liverpool were both touted. The latter are reportedly still interested in bolstering their left back ranks with Fabio Aurelio injured on a pretty regular basis. However, Tony Pulis’ Stoke, who signed fellow Villa want-away John Carew on loan in the transfer window, are now thought to be heading the list of admirers which the Mirror claim also includes Wigan.
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