The Great Prutton Mystery
Is he for sale? Is he not for sale? Is George Burley not telling us something? Is Phil Brown, the Hull City manager, telling porkies? It appears that not even David Prutton knows where he will be playing in February after being linked to Hull as well as Nottingham Forest.
Various newspapers reported this morning that Southampton have blocked a £400,000 move to Hull City, which comes days after Saints and Hull seemed to disagree on whether the player was for sale. George Burley the Saints boss allegedly wants Prutton to see out his current contract (which expires in the summer), yet Hull City insist they were informed of the players` availability on the same day.
What I find strange is how the club seems to be willing to let such an influential player leave. David Prutton joined Southampton from Nottingham Forest four years ago for £2.5million, which was seen as a reasonable fee at the time due to the Prutton`s great potential. As well as captaining the England Under-21 team, he was also one of Saints` most consistent and hard-working players in the Premiership; indeed many point to the loss of his presence because of a 10 game ban as a reason for the club`s relegation.
How, therefore, has the 25-year old been demoted to little more than a bench-warmer? After being an important first team player in the Premiership, Prutton has found himself as fifth-choice central midfielder in the Championship behind Wright, Pele, Viafara and Idiakez. George Burley clearly does have his favourites; you only need to look at the constant selection of Kelvin Davis in goal for proof of this, so it would take nothing short of a small miracle for Prutton to move ahead of old favourites Wright and Idiakez in the pecking-order before his contract runs out.
Burley also likes his teams to be disciplined and sensible, not something that having Prutton in the team can guarantee. The player who so infamously pushed a referee in the chest and who has been shown six red cards in his career is renowned for losing his rag. You only need to look as far back as the recent Leicester game, where Prutton came off the bench to be involved in an immediate altercation with Danny Tiatto, to see that his temper is still apparent.
Could the sight of Prutton rampaging along the front of the Chapel stand after scoring against Leicester be the last Saints fans see of him? I hope not, and believe that there is no harm in giving him a chance to win a new deal. We all know the level he is capable of playing at, and his determined attitude makes him a favourite with the fans. If Saints are indeed keen to sell so that he doesn`t leave for nothing come June, what difference is £400,000 when nearly £7million was spent last summer?