Owen has nothing to prove - Pulis
Stoke manager Tony Pulis insists striker Michael Owen does not have to prove himself to anyone despite an injury-troubled season.
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The former England international has made just six appearances for the Potters since joining on a free transfer in September and, with his contract expiring at the end of the season, speculation is already linking him with a move in the summer.
However, he came off the bench to score his first goal for the club in Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Swansea and could be in contention for his first start in the FA Cup against Manchester City this weekend.
Niggling injuries may have restricted the 33-year-old to just 111 minutes of first-team football this season but now the striker is fit Pulis hopes to see the best of him.
"He has no point to prove to me or the players," said the Potters boss.
"Michael is Michael and he just wants to do it for himself as much as anyone else and you always want - and need - that."
"We think he is a good lad around the place and he's had injuries which have held him back."
"He gives us the quality you need. Coming off the bench and scoring a goal would have given him a real boost."
"Irrespective of whether you are Michael Owen or one of the younger players in the group, confidence is a major factor in professional football."
"I was pleased Michael came on and scored a good goal. He did well when he came on."
"I came in (to the dressing room) afterwards and asked whether it went straight in from Cameron (Jerome) and to see his face was a picture."
Owen played 45 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly against Derby at St George's Park in midweek.
That has helped push his claims for inclusion at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday but Pulis admits there are other considerations to assess.
"The lads worked really hard in the morning so to ask them to go out again, especially in this weather, to play a game was pretty difficult particularly for the older guys - not that Michael's old," he added.
"His attitude was fantastic. He is part of 20 players that I am thinking about (for the City game)."
"There are other players who are knocking at my door as well as Michael.
"This club is not just about one player and it will remain that way as long as I am in charge."
While Pulis' options have been strengthened up front with Owen's return to fitness he is still looking to bolster his squad before the transfer window closes.
His interest in United States and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea is over, however.
"We enquired about whether we could bring him over, not managed to achieve it but we move on," he said.
"That didn't happen, draw a line under it. We're looking to bring one or two in to freshen it up as we need it."
"It is always good to have competition and maybe there are one or two areas we need to get players in just to keep people on their toes."