Matthew Etherington admits he will leave Stoke City at the end of the season, when his current contract will have expired.
The 32-year-old has been at the Britannia Stadium since January 2009, and has made over 170 appearances during his time at the club. However, he has struggled to make an impact this term under Mark Hughes, who has handed him just five Premier League starts, and the winger has now confirmed that he will leave in the summer.
“I am definitely leaving,” he said in the Sunday Mirror. “I have not heard anything from the club, which is fair enough, I have not played a lot lately. It has been a great time so I am really sad it is coming to an end. But there are no hard feelings. I think they are looking to go a different way, which is absolutely fine. I don’t expect my career to be stopping.”
Etherington, who began his career at Peterborough United and has also featured for Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, is confident he will be offered a deal elsewhere, and is prepared to move overseas should an attractive opportunity present itself: “I am pretty confident of getting a club soon. If I’m lucky I have three or four years left. I might even go abroad, we will have to see, but it is something I would look into.”
One player who looks likely to have a future at Stoke is Stephen Ireland. The former Manchester City midfielder joined the Potters on a permanent basis in January, following an initial loan spell from Aston Villa. And although his deal only runs until the end of the season, Hughes is preparing a new contract to extend the 27-year-old’s stay.
“It’s my intention to try to keep Stephen Ireland here,” the Stoke manager told the Stoke Sentinel. “I’ve had a discussion with Stephen and want to make it permanent. He hasn’t played much of late, but that’s more to do with the form of other players. We’ve seen his quality in training and he is well regarded, with a good past history, and hopefully we can resolve that and make sure he’s here for a couple more seasons.”