Stoke City: I've no problems with Michael Owen, says Tony Pulis
TONY Pulis says he isn't losing patience with Michael Owen as the former England striker vies for a comeback appearance in the FA Cup at Crystal Palace today.
Owen has yet to start a game for Stoke since signing at the end of August, and hasn't played at all since a hamstring injury at the end of October.
But Pulis insists there is still time for Owen to win over the Stoke faithful, starting at Selhurst Park today (3pm).
And he says it is the strength of the team rather than fitness issues which have recently prevented the former Liverpool and Manchester United striker from adding to his four substitute appearances.
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"Michael just wants to play football, but he has to be fit enough to do that," said Pulis.
"We've done OK as a football team anyway. He's been at the games over Christmas and been a part of it without me selecting him.
"He needs to get into the team and score goals.
"But I think Michael is keen to do that, it's just that the manager won't pick him at the moment."
Pulis also refuted any suggestion that Owen, whose media appearances have overshadowed his Stoke appearances, has been any kind of problem during his long rehabilitation over the last two months.
"He's a fantastic lad, and I really do mean that," said Pulis, pictured.
"He's been a real pleasure to work with because he's a top man.
"I think the players like him and the way he is because he's a decent lad. He's certainly not a big-time Charlie.
"He's got great ability, is a top player and not an ounce of trouble."
Owen will be making his first start for 14 months and his first FA Cup appearance for two years if he is thrown into the firing line from the first whistle at Palace.
There are certainly gaps in the matchday 18 after Pulis admitted he would be resting a few familiar faces following the hectic festive programme.
"I will change one or two players because one or two need a rest, but it will be as strong a team as we think is right," he said.
"We will show Palace the utmost respect because I've got a lot of time for Ian (Holloway) and for Crystal Palace.
"If they get back into the Premier League, they will fill that place week in, week out."
Meanwhile, Stoke's hierarchy are awaiting developments from an un-named Mexican club after they expressed a strong interest in taking Honduran midfielder Wilson Palacios to end his 16-month nightmare in the Potteries since joining from Tottenham in August 2011.