Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Brek Shea the painter, nearing return for Stoke City


Brek Shea has revealed his coping mechanism for his latest injury setback – painting.

It’s a hobby that Shea has practiced for some time, with some of his work selling for over $1,500.

Since suffering knee ligament during Stoke City’s preseason friendly against the Philadelphia Union two months ago, the winger has converted his double garage into an art studio where he focuses on abstract paintings.

“I’ve certainly been painting a lot lately while I’ve been injured. It keeps me busy, and the more I do it the better I get. Mostly I’m working on abstracts right now; just painting and seeing what happens.”

For Shea, painting is an outlet that keeps him occupied during his down time. “I wouldn’t say I’m very good I just enjoy it,” said Shea. “It keeps my mind off things and gives me something to do instead of getting into trouble or playing video games.”

For a player who posted a photo of himself brandishing two shotguns on Instagram earlier this summer, picking up the paint brush is a welcomed change. “It’s a nice way to relax. There is no right or wrong, it’s just opinions so I can do whatever I want. It’s not like the pressure of winning Premier League matches.”

Winning matches in England’s top flight, however, is exactly what Shea is eager to do following his time on the trainer’s table. Approaching full fitness and poised to be selected to play over the course of the next week, the US international is thirsting to get back on the pitch.

He doesn’t fancy his chances for selection this weekend when the Potters head to North London to face off with Arsenal, but next week’s League Cup match is circled on his calendar.

Brek Shea suffered knee ligament damage against the Philadelphia Union on July 30th. This week, he’s fit to make his return to at Stoke City.

“I feel good, now it’s up to the manager,” Shea told Stoke Sentinel. “It’s more likely I have a chance next midweek at Tranmere (in the Capital One Cup) than at Arsenal on Sunday. We’ve been playing well and why change a winning team?”

It’s an astute point that is evident of Shea’s growing maturity. After spending the second half of last season rehabbing a foot injury, the winger sounds as if he’s mentally ready to challenge for a starting spot with the Potters.

“It’s going to be a good fight. There is a lot of competition for the front three places here and being injured didn’t help my cause. I’ve got to put the injury behind me, get fit and fight for a spot.”

A spot on Mark Hughes’ side means displacing current starting left winger, Mathew Etherington. The 32 year old has started all four of Stoke’s contests but has yet to register a single shot on goal. Shea must also prove himself over players like Jermain Pennant and Stephen Ireland, who have enjoyed strong showings in their substitute roles.

The American’s motivation to do well, however, couldn’t be more clear: “I really want to go to the World Cup, so first and foremost I need to be playing well for Stoke.”

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.