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Charlton midfielder could be on way back up north
VALLEY boss Chris Powell has confirmed Dale Stephens could be set for a return north in this month’s transfer window.
The 23-year-old midfielder looked set to join Premier League Aston Villa on deadline day last August before the move collapsed after both clubs failed to agree a fee.
Stephens went on to make 26 appearances last season and looked impresssive after his half-time introduction from the bench for the injured Johnnie Jackson in Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough.
But Powell revealed the Bolton-born player, who began his career with Bury, is homesick, something which means a transfer to a northern club could well be on the cards.
The manager said: “It is a hard one with Dale because obviously he had the disappointment of not moving (to Villa) in the transfer window this time last year but he got on with it.
“I’m mindful of the fact he has suffered a little bit with homesickness and we have had discussions with him that if anything transpires that maybe right for him to go back up north then we will look at it.
“But if he is here, as I’ve always said if players are here and they are fit, then they are under consideration regardless of their situation.”
Powell added: “We’ve had that discussion with him and of course it takes a club to pick up the phone.
“If no-one does he is here, so at the moment we’ve had no real interest from northern clubs.
“We will just have to play it by ear and see if anyone does come in.
“If they don’t then he will have to stay fit and, like any footballer, he will play here.”
With this in mind, and his impressive recent cameo against Boro, Powell hinted Stephens could well be set for a start at Barnsley this weekend.
“Dale played against Oxford and I had some decisions for Middlesbrough,” the manager said.
“I thought Johnnie Jackson would be able to complete the 90 minutes but I knew Dale would be ready.
“He came on and was involved in a lot of what good aspects we had in the second half so he has given me plenty to think about.”
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