Ben in limbo

Back in red: Ben Marshall plays for Stoke reserves, scoring twice in the process against Walsall
Back in red: Ben Marshall plays for Stoke reserves, scoring twice in the process against Walsall
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BEN Marshall faces a crossroads in his career as Stoke take a fresh look at his future and the Owls await a decision on the winger.

The saga took a new twist when he was plunged into a reserve game at the Britannia Stadium yesterday and scored twice in a 7-0 win against Walsall.

It is understood that Stoke are now in two minds - whether to allow him to return to Hillsborough on loan or keep him for the rest of the season.

Talks on a new contract - with his current deal running out in the summer - have complicated the equation but it has begun to look unlikely to Stoke observers that he will be sold to any club in the January window.

Even if he just saw out the rest of his Stoke contract, the club would be entitled to compensation from any outfit who signed him in the summer because of his age, 20,

Marshall’s inclusion in Stoke’s reserves yesterday may have been intended to test his attitude and form.

He will not have been in need of match practice, having played 22 games for the Owls in his half-season loan with them. He is said to have given a whole-hearted performance.

Stoke rate him as a prospect, though one who may not be ready yet for their first team.

Manager Tony Pulis said last month he wanted Marshall to stay on loan at Hillsborough for the rest of the season. Then contract talks between the player’s agent and Stoke appeared not to reach a conclusion and this raised a question about whether he would sold to another club this month.

Wednesday are still waiting for a decision.

Stoke fielded a strong side yesterday. All those who scored have played for an Owls team at some stage. Kenwyne Jones, who netted one, and Tom Soares, who got two, had Hillsborough loan spells, and Cameron Jerome, who notched two, had a spell with the academy.