Number's up for Ric as Michael takes over
MICHAEL Owen will have big boots to fill at Stoke City after being handed the number 10 shirt vacated by Potters legend Ricardo Fuller.
Many fans were dismayed by the decision to release the iconic Jamaican in the summer.
But if there is anyone who can replace the mercurial frontman in their hearts, then surely it is the 32-year-old Owen, whose move to Stoke was ratified by the Premier League yesterday.
Fuller, who signed for Charlton Athletic last month, scored 50 goals in 208 appearance for Stoke after joining them from Southampton for just £500,000 in 2006.
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Owen's record (221 goals in 473 career appearances) speaks for itself, but the decision to give him the number 10 shirt could offer a glimpse of the role he is likely to play at the Brit, despite wearing it with distinction for Liverpool and England.
Fuller was seen by Tony Pulis as an "impact" player for the last season-and-a-half of his Stoke career, and it is likely that Owen, just six weeks younger than Fuller and similarly beset by fitness problems, could initially find himself deployed in a similar role as he works to regain match fitness.
Owen was named in Stoke's 25-man Premier League squad yesterday along with five of the club's other summer recruits. The only name missing was that of midfielder Jamie Ness, below, but he is able to play anyway as he is only 21 years of age.
Also omitted from the Premier League squad were midfielders Diego Arismendi, Matthew Lund and Michael Tonge, striker Mamady Sidibe and defender Danny Higginbotham.
Lund is already on loan at Bristol Rovers, and the Potters are likely to be keen to arrange similar deals for the other four players as they look to trim back an unwieldily squad.
Stoke's 25-man Premier League squad: Charlie Adam, Asmir Begovic, Geoff Cameron, Peter Crouch, Rory Delap, Maurice Edu, Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth, Cameron Jerome, Kenwyne Jones, Michael Kightly, Carlo Nash, Steven Nzonzi, Michael Owen, Wilson Palacios, Jermaine Pennant, Ryan Shawcross, Ryan Shotton, Thomas Sorensen, Matthew Upson, Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan, Dean Whitehead, Andy Wilkinson, Marc Wilson.
Under-21s players (contracts and scholars): Daniel Bachmann, Marcel Barrington, Ryan Brunt, James Campbell, Michael Clarkson, Jake Cook, Sam Coulson, Florent Cuvelier, Lucas Dawson, Dale Eve, Ben Glasgow, Jadan Hall, Ben Heneghan, Joseph Hulme, Jordan Keane, Kieran Monlouis, Andy Musungu, Jack Nardiello, Jamie Ness, Ryan O'Reilly, Immanuel Parry, Callum Pilkington, Derice Richards, Jordan Richardson, Nathan Ricketts-Hopkinson, George Rigg, Karim Rossi, Ed Sanders, Kris Scott, Ryan Shields, Curtis Strong, Joel Taylor, Adam Thomas, Sam Westley.
Stoke City squad numbers for the 2012/13 season: 1) Asmir Begovic; 2) Geoff Cameron; 3) Danny Higginbotham; 4) Robert Huth; 6) Glenn Whelan; 7) Jermaine Pennant; 8) Wilson Palacios; 9) Kenwyne Jones; 10) Michael Owen; 11) Mamady Sidibe; 12) Marc Wilson; 13) Maurice Edu; 14) Jamie Ness; 15) Steven Nzonzi; 16) Charlie Adam; 17) Ryan Shawcross; 18) Dean Whitehead; 19) Jonathan Walters; 20) Matthew Upson; 21) Michael Kightly; 23) Michael Tonge; 24) Rory Delap; 25) Peter Crouch; 26) Matthew Etherington; 27) Carlo Nash; 28) Andy Wilkinson; 29) Thomas Sorensen; 30) Ryan Shotton; 31) Ryan Brunt; 32) Diego Arismendi; 33) Cameron Jerome; 36) Matthew Lund; 38) Florent Cuvelier.