Stoke City: Pulis hopes to seal a deal with Michael Owen
STOKE City were today hoping to hold off late interest from Liverpool in the race to sign free agent Michael Owen.
Chairman Peter Coates has given boss Tony Pulis the green light to sign the player providing the former England striker's demands are acceptable to the club's wage structure.
Stoke are prepared to offer Owen a contract with a pay-as-you-play element.
However, Liverpool's striker crisis has left Reds' boss Brendan Rodgers considering a move for the 32-year-old striker.
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Rogers had planned to sign Clint Dempsey from Fulham, but Liverpool's £3m offer was rejected so Dempsey moved to Tottenham in a £6m deal instead.
That has left Rodgers short of strikers after he agreed to let Andy Carroll join West Ham on a season-long loan.
Stoke would like the Owen deal done in time for today's 5pm deadline for submitting Premier League squads of up to 25 names.
Sunderland are among the group of other clubs interested in Owen following their own failure to land Dempsey. However, the striker would prefer to find a club near his home in the North West.
City have been the bookmakers' favourites to sign Owen ever since he was released by Manchester United at the end of last season.
But the Potters are pursuing Owen on an appearance related deal, similar to the arrangement they had with Jonathan Woodgate in his 12 months at Stoke.
City want to protect themselves because of Owen's fitness record.
The striker only played four games for Manchester United last season, but says he was left out rather than ruled out through injury for parts of the campaign.
However, the striker's pedigree is not in doubt. Owen scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for his country, making him England's fourth-highest goalscorer behind only Bobby Charlton (49), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44).
Stoke are keen to improve their record in front of goal having only netted 39 goals in their last 41 Premier League games.
Tony Pulis has attempted to address that by bringing in creative midfielder Charlie Adam from Liverpool for a £4m deal. However, the manager has made no secret of his desire to add Owen to his squad.
Now he's been given clearance by Coates to try to make Owen his seventh signing of the summer, following the arrivals of Jamie Ness, Geoff Cameron, Michael Kightly, Maurice Edu, Adam and Steven Nzonzi.
Owen netted 158 goals in just 297 games for Liverpool, but some fans of the Merseyside club will have reservations about re-signing him because he chose to play for their arch rivals Manchester United.
Owen is one of a handful of strikers with experience in the top flight who are still available as free agents outside the transfer window.
Others available include 32-year-old former Bolton striker Ivan Klasnic and Owen's 34-year-old former England strike-partner Emile Heskey.