Bruce says Pennant’s troubles are behind him – Pennant ready for Europe

Jermaine Pennant’s former boss, Birmingham manager Steve Bruce, says that he expects the young winger to shake off the remnants of his troublesome reputation now he’s at the beginning of his career at Liverpool FC.

Speaking to BBC Five Live, Bruce said: “Jermaine’s ability has never been in question. He just needs to sort out the other side of his life – and is making big inroads on doing that. He is in a good environment at Liverpool. He knows he has got to behave and grow up very quickly. It’s a big club and there will be people in the dressing room who will pull him into line if need be.”

Bruce says Pennant’s behaviour is often a result of the influence of those around him, suggesting that at Anfield his behaviour might improve further. “Jermaine is a good kid, who is easily influenced. He seems to be everyone’s kicking block. I had many rows with him but never wanted to get rid of him. I always knew he had talent.”

Pennant’s debut for Liverpool came in Saturday’s friendly defeat against Kaiserslautern, where Pennant was involved in both of Liverpool’s goals. As happy as he was with his own performance after coming from the bench, he’s desperate for the season proper to get under way, and especially looking forward to playing Europe: “As a player you cannot ask for more than playing in the Champions League and it is something that really excites me. I am happy with the way my debut went. I want to learn from the good players that are around me.”

Luis Garcia was only able to play a short time in the game due to suffering a neck injury, something that Rafa Benítez says he’ll be bearing in mind before choosing his teams for future games. It’s unlikely that we’ll see Pepe Reina in midfield again though. Rafa said Garcia’s injury was an existing one, aggravated during the game: “We must be careful with the rest of the players after what happened to Luis. He has a neck injury and has been complaining of a sore neck in training three days ago. The most important thing now is that we keep the rest of the players fit.”