Stoke City at West Brom: Peter Crouch in contention for start despite tooth operation
STOKE boss Tony Pulis is refusing to write off Peter Crouch at West Bromwich Albion today after insisting: "He's desperate to sink his teeth into them."
The former England striker has undergone interim dental surgery after losing two teeth and having two more pushed into his gums following a collision with Newcastle defender Fabricio Coloccini in Wednesday night's 2-1 victory at the Britannia Stadium.
Pulis will speak to England frontman Crouch when he rejoins the City squad before today's game and then make a decision over his involvement at the Hawthorns.
"He could start, I haven't washed that one away," Pulis insisted.
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"I haven't seen him, but I've spoken to him and he's desperate to get a brace and get on with it because he wants to be involved. That's a measure of his character.
"The brace would be almost like a gumshield, I imagine, and we'll see if he's comfortable wearing one. So we haven't given up hope on him."
Kenwyne Jones would still appear favourite to start this afternoon (3pm), however, after impressing in his last three appearances from the substitutes' bench.
Pulis also revealed Michael Owen would probably step up to the bench today if Crouch is ruled out of the matchday squad altogether.
"Michael has trained well this week and if Crouchy isn't available then Michael comes into play because we'd like to have two strikers on the bench."
Cameron Jerome looks set to remain among the subs, Pulis admitted, but he insisted the 26-year-old striker deserves credit for stepping up to the plate with the midweek winner against Newcastle after three months out of league action.
"The best thing about Cameron is the fact he's kept going when he hasn't been involved," said Pulis.
"He came in on Wednesday with great enthusiasm and that showed great character.
"He could have gone out on loan (to Blackburn), but we stopped the move from going through because we felt we needed him here."
Meanwhile, midfielder Diego Arismendi has returned home to Uruguay seven months before the end of his contract after terminating the agreement by mutual consent.
The 24-year-old made just five appearances, and none in the Premier League, following his £2.5m arrival from Nacional in the summer of 2009.
Chief executive Tony Scholes said: "It has been an incredibly frustrating time for everybody because he came over here with such high hopes of making a name for himself in English football, but it clearly hasn't worked out that way for him."