Stoke City: Tony Pulis admits Swansea interest in Kenwyne Jones but hedges bets on deal
TONY Pulis is staying tight-lipped on whether his Jones boy will end up in the Valleys.
The Stoke boss says no offer has landed on his desk – not yet, at least – and so Kenwyne Jones remains favourite to spearhead his strike force at home to Chelsea tomorrow (3pm).
But Pulis is in no position yet to put a firm end to speculation over a possible bid eventually arriving from Swansea.
Nor can he say for sure whether any bid will be tempting enough to part company with Jones before the end of the January transfer window.
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One thing's for certain, however, he surely can't sell Jones without having a viable replacement ready and waiting to move to the Potteries before the window shuts.
In the meantime, Pulis looks and sounds like someone happy to keep everyone guessing over whether he really would sell Jones this month.
"I haven't received anything where I'm going to say, 'Yes, we're going to sell him'," he revealed.
"But there's a lot of interest, and there's also been interest from other clubs for other players.
"Kenwyne has done smashing. If there's any transfer speculation that's up to you lot to keep talking about it – and I understand that.
"It's the silly season. But you let the silly season run and decide what is right for the football club and what is right for the players."
Jones is arousing such interest after storming back in from the cold once Peter Crouch saw his front teeth knocked out during Stoke's home win over Newcastle on November 28.
He has since established himself as Pulis's first choice striker after three goals in seven Premier League starts while the hapless Crouch was acquainting himself with his dentist.
Pulis has been suitably impressed by Jones, as a goal threat and a defensive bully, but remains equally cautious about declaring it a turning point in his Stoke career.
"It's been nearly a year and then Kenwyne comes in," Pulis reflected.
"Yes, he's done well in a short period of time. He's scored some goals and looked back to his best, but we want that all the time.
"He's a great lad and never a minute's problem. And when he plays to his potential, there's not a better player in the Premier League."
The word "when" will resonate with those Stoke fans long admiring Jones, but long lamenting his failure to regularly deliver his undeniable qualities in the opposition penalty area.
Which is why the jury remains out some two-and-a-half years since his then club-record £8m arrival from Sunderland.
Tomorrow he faces a Chelsea defence undergoing a possible change after John Terry's return to fitness from a lengthy knee injury.
The former England captain's presence would certainly steady a rocky boat after a couple of howlers from Branislav Ivanovic teed up Swansea's shock Capital One Cup semi-final win at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
"I think he (Ivanovic) is one of the best defenders in the Premier League," said Pulis, somewhat diplomatically.
"But if Terry's fit, they might bring him back and play Ivanovic at right-back."
ONE player definitely not leaving Stoke, not in January at least, is Michael Owen.
That is the message from his boss following recent stories claiming Owen had been offered by an agent to the Australian A-League outfit Perth Glory.
Tony Pulis, still enthused by Owen's first start for the club at Crystal Palace last Saturday, insists nothing had changed with Owen.
"Michael's contract runs until the end of the season," he affirmed.
"He has not come in and said he wants to change it and we haven't pulled him in to say we want to change it."