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The 31-year-old has been relegated to the bench since the arrival of Michael Kightly in the summer but the manager insists that he still has a role to play at the club

Stoke City manager Tony Pulis insists that Matthew Etherington is still very much a part of his plans at the club despite only starting one Premier League game so far this season.

The former West Ham winger has been influential in establishing the Potters as top-flight mainstays over the past three seasons but his position in the side has come under threat since the arrival of Michael Kightly from Wolves in the summer.

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At the age of 31, some have speculated that Etherington's days could be numbered at the Britannia Stadium, but his boss firmly rejected such talk.

"Irrespective of what people might be saying, Matty has got a massive future at this football club," Pulis told the Stoke Sentinel.

"Matty has had a dip in form and there are a lot of reasons why players can lose form.

"A fit, dynamic and athletic Matthew Etherington is something we haven't got elsewhere in the squad."

Etherington has made 134 appearances for Stoke since joining in January 2009, scoring 16 goals.

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