Odemwingie feels at home at Stoke

Stoke's Peter Odemwingie is feeling happy and confident once again after putting an ill-fated spell at Cardiff behind him.

Referee Neil Swarbrick speaks with Peter Odemwingi

The 32-year-old forward ended a tumultuous three-year association with West Brom in the summer to join the newly-promoted Bluebirds.

However, it was a move that did not go to plan and Odemwingie left the Cardiff City Stadium in January as part of a player-exchange that saw Kenwyne Jones move the other way.

The deal gave both the chance of a fresh start and it is one Odemwingie is enjoying, highlighted by his celebrations after his first Stoke goal in Saturday's 2-2 draw at Southampton.

"Very often I was pulled out of games," he said of his time in south Wales.

"I had a poor pre-season and I needed the full 90 minutes to open up and get my fitness back.

"It was a similar situation all the time: the team not doing too well, I would be the first to be pulled off and those things no player can be happy with.

"It became too often and it affected my game and confidence but now I am happy. I can be playing and doing well for the team.

"Three games so far, three 90 minutes.

"I have been in the game a lot of years and I know where I can do well and I saw this team has the quality of players that will make me better.

"There were games in Cardiff when I had to be a target man, backing into players. It is not my game.

"I have never been so strong physically to do that. I would say I was not used in my best way I could have been."

Odemwingie is enjoying playing off Peter Crouch and is hopeful that Mark Hughes' side, having followed up the 2-1 win against Manchester United with a point at St Mary's, can kick on up the table.

"In the dressing room we want the top half and hopefully we can achieve that," he said, with the Potters 13th ahead of Wednesday's match with Swansea.

"The home results are good but away they were not so good.

"For that to happen you have to win a few away and draw a few.

"Hopefully we can get that towards the end of the season and keep the home form going."

While 10th is within Stoke's grasp, any higher looks beyond them given that ninth-placed Saints currently hold a nine-point gap on the team directly below them.

For Mauricio Pochettino's team, a late European charge looks beyond them and has led to suggestions that Southampton do not have much left to play for this term - something centre-back Jose Fonte wholeheartedly disagrees with.

"In our minds we have to catch up on Newcastle, we have to catch up on Man United if we can, and finish as high as possible," he said.

"People want to go to Brazil, people want to be in the plane to the World Cup, so we have a lot to play for.

"Don't get me wrong, we want to win every game."

Fonte is one of those hoping to impress enough to make the World Cup, despite having never represented the Portugal senior team before.

Asked if there had been any contact with the Portuguese FA, he said: "To be honest, no. But why not? Why can't I dream about it?

"If I keep playing, and keep playing well, I hope I have a chance at least to prove myself."

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