While a summer exit may have failed to materialise for out-of-favour Stoke City midfielder Brek Shea, the US international is being handed a lifeline in the form of a loan move.
According to reports, the 24-year-old old left winger is set to join Birmingham City on a three-month deal, joining fellow Americans Jonathan Spector and Will Packwood at St Andrew’s, with Stoke having the option of recalling him after the first month.
The loan is set to be Shea’s second to the Championship since joining the Potters from MLS club FC Dallas in January 2013 for £2.5 million, having previously seen a spell at Barnsley during the second-half of last season cut short following an incident in which he made an obscene gesture to a fan.
Once considered the most promising talent in the American game, the Texas-native’s reputation has taken a serious hit during his 18 months at the Britannia, having failed to make a first-team appearance so far this season after being deemed surplus to requirements under manager Mark Hughes.
Beginning his professional career with Dallas after being drafted second overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, Shea scored 19 goals in 112 appearances during his five seasons at the club, finishing as a finalist for the MVP award in 2011, while also make his US debut in 2010.
Going on to earn 27 caps since, including as a substitute in last week’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic, he has remained on the outskirts of Jurgen Klinsmann’s setup despite his recent struggles, but the German head coach has been left frustrated at seeing him fail to gain regular first-team minutes.
Also linked to Southampton during the closing stages of the transfer window, as well with moves to the Bundesliga and Eredivisie, Shea remains a promising talent, but at this point it’s been made clear that he won’t realise his full potential as long as he remains at Stoke.
A loan to Birmingham could be the first step towards revitalising his career and, if he impresses, a potential stepping stone to a permanent switch elsewhere.