Stoke City: Michael Owen fit to take on Everton
MICHAEL Owen has declared himself fit to play for Stoke ... and desperate to make up for lost time.
Since joining City at the start of September, the former England striker has only made four substitute appearances, the last of which was against Sunderland on October 27.
But he's now overcome groin and hamstring problems and has revealed he is available for Saturday's home game with Everton, the club he supported as a boy.
Owen, who will work on his match fitness by playing in a behind-closed-doors friendly today, said: "I am healthy and raring to go.
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"It depends on me now to stay fit and perform. I have to wait for the opportunity, but hopefully I can take it when it does come.
"I've had muscular problems which have probably come from not having a solid pre-season.
"But that's gone; I want to look forward and hopefully iron out the niggles and get on with playing some games.
"It's a key period because the games are coming thick and fast and there are a lot of points to be had around Christmas.
"I just want to get going because it has been a stuttering start so far for me.
"I just want to be fit for a period of time and show the fans what I came here to do."
Owen's availability will leave Tony Pulis with plenty of options up front on Saturday.
Peter Crouch and Cameron Jerome started on the bench in Saturday's draw at Villa.
However, Crouch could replace Kenwyne Jones in the starting line-up on Saturday.
Owen added: "I possibly could have been okay for the Aston Villa game, but we had Crouchy coming back and Kenwyne had done well lately so the manager decided to let me have a few more days training. Hopefully that puts me spot on for games coming up."
However, Owen accepts he can't take a place for granted, adding: "It is a big squad for a club that is not one of the Champions League sides. We have a lot of cover in a lot of positions and the strikers are no different."
Owen was among the Stoke players who visited children at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire yesterday.
Stoke split their squad as half the players visited the hospital and half joined youngsters at the Donna Louise Children's Hospice at Trentham Lakes.
Owen said: "Hopefully we can give the youngsters a bit of cheer. From our point of view, it reminds us of how lucky we are to do what we do."
STOKE have appointed former football agent Mark Cartwright as their new technical director.
Cartwright, a former professional goalkeeper who also managed Leek, has worked as an agent for the last 10 years.
He has been appointed to work closely with manager Tony Pulis and chief executive Tony Scholes to head the club's scouting and player recruitment department.
CITY play in the FA Youth Cup third round at Brighton tonight (7pm).