Stoke City: It's no go on Michael Owen ... for now
STOKE City remain open to signing England legend Michael Owen ... but their interest has yet to go as far as formal talks.
Owen is understood to be interested in a move to the Britannia Stadium, where he would link up with his former England strike partner Peter Crouch.
Tony Pulis tried to sign Owen three years ago, and revealed in The Sentinel last week that he is monitoring the availability of the 32-year-old, who was released by Manchester United last month.
However, senior sources at the Britannia Stadium are mystified by speculation that the former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker is poised to complete a move to Stoke.
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That is regarded as premature at this stage, but a deal for the player remains a possibility as Pulis looks to shake-up his strike-force this summer.
Stoke remain the bookmakers' favourites to sign the striker, but face competition from Premier League rivals Everton, his dad Terry's former club.
Both clubs can offer Owen the chance to stay in the North West. Indeed, the Britannia Stadium is barely 30 miles from his plush Manor House Stables complex at Malpas and only a little further from his home in North Wales.
Owen has confirmed he has no plans to retire and says he doesn't want to drop into the Championship.
However, his fitness record could dissuade potential suitors.
Owen has only played 10 times since January 2011, because of injuries as well as the size and quality of the squad at Sir Alex Ferguson's disposal.
But Owen's pedigree is not in doubt. His last appearance for England was in 2008, but his 40 goals for his country put him fourth on the list of England goalscorers behind only Bobby Charlton (49), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44).
Stoke showed when they signed Jonathan Woodgate last summer that they are prepared to take a gamble on a player with question marks over his fitness. They recruited the classy centre-half on a one-year contract heavily weighted towards appearances.
He had played just four games in two years at Tottenham, but made 21 appearances for City last season and has now been offered a new one-year contract.
Any deal with Owen is likely to be similarly structured towards appearances, a potential stumbling block in signing the one-time Newcastle United striker.
However, Pulis is looking to improve Stoke's attacking threat after they scored just 36 Premier League goals last term, the worst record in the division.
Peter Crouch and Jon Walters are sure to remain part of his plans after they scored 14 and 11 goals respectively and were both regulars throughout the season.
However, Stoke are looking to generate more of their own transfer income this summer than in recent years.
That puts a question mark over the future of both Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome.
Jones cost £8m from Sunderland two years ago, but only started ten Premier League games last season.
Meanwhile, Jerome, who cost £4m from Birmingham last summer, made clear he was frustrated at not getting a regular place at Stoke after only starting seven league matches.