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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
'Tagged' footballer Pennant freed
Jermaine Pennant outside court
Jermaine Pennant was released after serving 31 days
Jermaine Pennant could become the first footballer to play in the Premiership while wearing an electronic tag after he was released from jail.

The 22-year-old from Barnet, north London, was freed early from his three-month sentence for drink driving while banned and having no insurance.

Pennant, who served 31 days in jail, may now play for Birmingham City, where he is on loan from Arsenal.

He was jailed after crashing into a lamppost in January.

It's a relief to be out. I'm looking forward to putting on my football boots and start training again
Jermaine Pennant
A Home Office spokeswoman said she could not comment on individual cases but said an electronic tag would not be removed "at any stage" until the tagging period is over.

So if Pennant was to be selected in the next two weeks he would have take to the pitch with the tag still on.

In a statement on his release, Pennant said: "It's a relief to be out. I'm looking forward to putting on my football boots and start training again.

"I'd like to thank all those that have helped me through this difficult period."

Birmingham's on-loan Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant

Birmingham manager Steve Bruce has always maintained the club would stand by the player.

Pennant's Arsenal contract expires this summer and Birmingham are thought to be close to agreeing a compensation deal with the Gunners to allow them to sign the player on a permanent basis.

After his release, Bruce said: "We are delighted that Jermaine is back with us again and I'm pleased that this chapter of his life has been concluded.

"Myself and everybody at the club will be doing all we can to ensure that Jermaine settles back into normality as soon as possible," he told the club's website, www.bcfc.com.

The former England Under-21 star had been banned from driving for 16 months in February 2004 after being seen travelling in the wrong lane in Paddington, west London.

Speech slurred

That period was later cut after he completed a special course.

But police stopped him in January this year outside a leisure centre in Aylesbury.

He claimed to have lost control of his car while changing its satellite navigation system.

The car was dragging a lamp post and when he got out, Pennant's eyes were glazed, his speech slurred and he smelled of alcohol, Aylesbury Magistrates' Court heard.

Tests showed his alcohol reading was 85 micrograms per 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.


SEE ALSO:
Player may be released with tag
24 Mar 05 |  West Midlands
Arsenal footballer drops appeal
08 Mar 05 |  London


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