Michael Owen feels fit and ready to play for Stoke but must wait to find out if he has a part to play in Saturday's Premier League clash with Manchester City at the Britannia Stadium. The Staffordshire outfit completed the signing of former England star Owen, a free agent after his release over the summer by Manchester United, last week on a one-year deal.
The 32-year-old has had a catalogue of injury problems during his career and only played four times in 2011/12, with his last first-team appearance for United coming in November. Owen is keen to make his return to action as soon as possible and says he is in good enough condition to do so, although the decision about Saturday's match lies with Stoke boss Tony Pulis.
Speaking this morning at a press conference where he was officially unveiled to the media, Owen said: "I'm not sure what the manager has got in store. I feel as if I am fit enough to take part in a game. I'm not quite 100 per cent confident or happy in my general touch and different bits and bobs, but that will come. So we'll see what the manager has got in mind, but I'd like to think I'll improve as the weeks go on."
Pulis was keeping an open mind on the matter, but said he was pleased with what Owen had demonstrated so far fitness-wise. "From what the lads say, he has come back a lot fitter than what we thought he would," Pulis said. "He needs a lot more work with the ball and being in small-sided games for his sharpness, but we are pleased with the way he has come back."
Asked if he felt he could use Owen straight away in a game, Pulis said: "It is too early to say yet. We have got two more days."
Owen was linked with other clubs this summer, with there being talk at one point of a possible return to Liverpool. The former Real Madrid, Newcastle and England frontman would not name his other suitors specifically, but confirmed there had been various interested parties and is confident he made the right decision.
"The manager (Pulis) had been interested in me for a while and prior to me going to Manchester United (in 2009) he had made contact and tried to bring me here," Owen said. "There were a couple of Premier League teams that showed interest (this time), but this is a team on the up, I know the manager and a few of the players and it meant I didn't have to move my family as well.
"My past experiences of coming to the Britannia were a real eye-opener - the crowd are really passionate and I don't care who you are, you always like to play in front of a passionate crowd that love their football. So there were loads of things that ticked the boxes and I'm sure I've made the right decision.
"It's a move that I'm excited about and I hope I can stay fit for the majority of my time here. I want to perform and I want to finish my career on a real high. I'm still only 32 and I still feel as if I have a lot left in me. I've always scored goals no matter what team I have been in, so as long as I can stay fit and healthy, then I'm sure I can do that here at Stoke."