First goal eases the pain of year out

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Ben Baker

PETER ODEMWINGIE ad­mits he’d love to let his fam­ily know where he will be play­ing his football next sea­son. But, while that ques­tion re­mains unan­swered, the striker is con­vinced Bris­tol City will still be a Cham­pi­onship club come the end of the cam­paign.

Last week­end, Odemwingie marked his first start since join­ing City on loan this month with the third goal in a 6-0 thump­ing of fel­low strug­glers Bolton.

It was the first time the 34-yearold had been able to cel­e­brate a strike since scor­ing the only goal for Nige­ria in a 1-0 win over Bos­nia and Herze­gov­ina at the 2014 World Cup.

In­deed, his last strike in English football came against Ful­ham for Stoke in May that year.

Odemwingie missed most of last sea­son af­ter suf­fer­ing knee lig­a­ment dam­age.

He found play­ing time lim­ited this term when he re­turned to fit­ness, caus­ing him to leave the Pot­ters for the West Coun­try.

But, while he has made a fast start to life at Ash­ton Gate, Odemwingie knows he can’t rest on his lau­rels as his con­tract with Stoke is up at the end of the sea­son.

With wife Sarah and two young sons, Noah and Theo, at home, this is far from an ideal situation.

How­ever, af­ter sur­viv­ing the full 90 min­utes in the trounc­ing of Bolton, the for­mer West Brom marks­man is hop­ing to prove he can still cut it in Eng­land.

“I was very happy to get off the mark quite quickly, and a goal in my first home game was a big plus for me,” Odemwingie said.

“But, just as im­por­tant, was play­ing the whole game. I hadn’t re­ally put my­self through a proper test since my in­jury.

“Pre-sea­son was a test for me in the sum­mer with Stoke and I thought I did well in the tour­na­ments. But, af­ter that, I found game time hard to come by and I couldn’t re­ally con­tinue like that.

“I had hoped to move in Jan­uary, but then Stoke had a few in­jures and Mark Hughes asked me to stay. Then those play­ers came back and be­ing back on the side­lines won’t do for me.

“I missed football a lot and I know I have a lot to of­fer still. I want to be back en­joy­ing my football again, which I am at Bris­tol City.

“I wish I could talk about where I will be next sea­son and know what will hap­pen be­cause I have a wife and kids who want to know where we will be liv­ing.

“But I still have to see what level I am at af­ter a few more games. The 90 min­utes last week was good, but I know that I still have to get in five or six games to earn a con­tract for next sea­son that will be best for me.

“Ev­ery game is an op­por­tu­nity to do well and see where I am af­ter my in­jury.

“But I am very pos­i­tive about be­ing at Bris­tol City and help­ing out here.”

While at Stoke this sea­son, he was rub­bing shoul­ders with Euro­pean stars such as Bo­jan Kr­kic, Xher­dan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afel­lay and Marko Ar­nau­tovic.

But Odemwingie – who has ten goals in 63 Nige­ria ap­pear­ances – is equally im­pressed by the ta­lent at man­ager Lee John

son’s dis­posal.

“When I ar­rived at Bris­tol City I was sur­prised by the qual­ity in a team that was at the bot­tom of the ta­ble,” he added.

“On the ball, the play­ers are re­ally good and the man­ager wants them to play football with the ball on the ground and with good pass­ing.

“But they can also play the long ball to our cap­tain, Aaron Wil­bra­ham, if they need to, which is good be­cause not all games are the same.

“The club is also look­ing to push on next sum­mer. They want to sur­vive this year and go big next year. Af­ter speak­ing to the man­ager I knew I wanted to come and I’m re­ally pleased with my choice.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images PIC­TURE: JMP

POTTER PALS: Odemwingie en­joys a Stoke goal with Stephen Ire­land, cen­tre, and Marko Ar­nau­tovic IN BUSI­NESS: Odemwingie, cen­tre, cel­e­brates his first goal since 2014 with Bobby Reid and Lee Tom­lin, of City

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