Owen can be a star but he needs to get fit, says Pulis
TONY Pulis believes Stoke fans have already taken Michael Owen to their hearts – even though he never even touched the ball on his debut.
Owen was greeted with a rare standing ovation when he was thrown on from the subs' bench in the dying minutes of Saturday's 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City.
"We wanted to give Michael just a taste of it," said Pulis. "I wanted him to get a taste of the crowd and the atmosphere, and the reception for Michael was fantastic."
But Pulis warned he would not be pressured into slotting Owen into his new-look line-up until the time was right.
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The former England striker has expressed his desire to start playing sooner rather than later, while the Stoke faithful are also keen to see him resume his old England partnership with Peter Crouch.
But Pulis says: "We will do what's best for the team and what's best for Michael, but the team will come first.
"As soon as we get him fit, I'm hoping he gets in the team and plays. He's really desperate to get going and we need goalscorers, but I just think he needs a bit of time."
Pulis also acknowledged the quality of newcomers Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi on Saturday, but said fellow midfielder Glenn Whelan deserved credit too.
"He cleaned up a hell of a lot of stuff and so we mustn't forget him as well. We've always brought in players we thought would improve us, but it's up to the players already here to stay with it to remain in the team."
Pulis admitted there may have been a handball when Crouch fired Stoke in front of Saturday, but said his players were due such a decision against the bigger clubs.
He added: "The team worked so hard against one of the best teams in Europe. If you look at the players they left out, it's phenomenal.
"But the 11 who played for Stoke played as one. It was lovely to see the new players give everything for the team. That's what you need against a top, top team.
"The thing we don't want to do is lose what we are all about – and that's our organisation and commitment to work. The crowd love to see players working hard and working as a team.
"But we also hope with the quality of Charlie and Steven we will create opportunities."
Andy Wilkinson could face retrospective punishment after a raised arm left Mario Balotelli rolling on the floor in the second half.
The officials missed the incident at the time, but referee Mark Clattenburg appeared to tell Man City's protesting players he would review it after the game.