Michael Owen forced to wait on Stoke City future
MICHAEL Owen will be kept waiting until the end of the season before learning his fate at Stoke City.
Manager Tony Pulis wants to see out the current campaign before sitting down to discuss Owen's future at the Britannia Stadium.
The odds appear stacked against the 33-year-old former England striker being offered a second year at Stoke after seeing his first include just half-a-dozen substitute appearances so far in the Premier League.
And Owen's stop-start debut campaign in the Potteries appears to have hit another snag ahead of tomorrow's trip to Fulham (12.45pm) following a thigh injury earlier this week.
But for now, Pulis, pictured below, is refusing to rule out the possibility of a second deal for the injury-hit striker.
"We will review it at the end of the season with Dean Whitehead and three or four others," said Pulis.
"It will help his cause if he is in the team, of course it will. Michael wants to play. He wants to play every week.
"I haven't got a player in that dressing room that doesn't want to play. There is no-one in there happy to just sit and pick up the money.
"We needed to get Michael games, but over Christmas was difficult because there was so much going on.
"But once we got that out of the way we arranged two or three games, which he was part of."
The Stoke boss denied there was any clause in Owen's contract guaranteeing him a second season if he played a fixed amount of matches.
"No, he doesn't need to play a certain amount of games to win a contract," he added.
"There is nothing like that in his deal. There are no strings attached to his contract."
Owen's latest injury blow came earlier this week just as Pulis was ready to pat him on the back.
"He did well in training on Tuesday," he recalled, "but then in the last couple of minutes he felt a nick in his thigh.
"It's big blow for us and a real disappointment if he can't be involved this weekend.
"He has had a scan and they are looking at him, so we will have to see how he is."
Marc Wilson looks certain to claim at least a place on the bench at Fulham tomorrow after recovering from the broken leg sidelining him since October 27.
"He has taken his time in lots of respects and we have taken our time with him, but he's close now and we are desperate to get him playing again," said Pulis.
American international Brek Shea will have to be more patient, it seems, but could find himself among the substitutes if Pulis chooses to shake them up.