Owen not guaranteed place in Stoke team, stresses Pulis

The Potters boss expects the newly signed striker, who was a free agent this summer having left Manchester United, to be pushing for a first-team spot soon enough

Michael Owen is not guaranteed a place in the Stoke City first team, manager Tony Pulis has warned.

The striker, 32, joined the Potters this summer after his Manchester United contract expired at the end of last season.

But, with Owen fighting to regain full fitness, the Britannia Stadium boss stressed that the idea of the former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward being a nailed-on starter is ludicrous.

"I've read all sorts of stuff and apparently he only signed for us because I guaranteed him he would start every time he was fit to play," Pulis told the Daily Mirror. "We just don't work like that at this football club.

12/1 Michael Owen is 12/1 with PaddyPower to score the last goal in Chelsea v Stoke City

"You just want everybody, especially the players, to be reassured, whether we sign Michael or whether we sign Maurice Edu on a nominal fee from Rangers, if they are good enough and they are performing, they will be in the team.

"If the players found that was true, I'd have to pack my bags and leave, if I'd promised someone he was going to play every week. It just doesn't run right with me.

"It's got nothing to do with people's names. Michael is a great lad and he's trained brilliantly this week but it's difficult to change it."

Although Owen has not played much first-team football in the past couple of years, Pulis is adamant that the ex-Newcastle striker will be given game time in the coming weeks.

"I don't think it'll be long until he gets in the team, if he keeps performing as he is in training," the coach added.

"We've got Chelsea on Saturday then Manchester United and Liverpool coming up and these are games where people are not expecting us to do anything so they might be a good opportunity to give him some time."

Pulis also called for calm amongst disgruntled supporters who are unhappy with Stoke's one win in their last 15 Premier League matches.

"You can't stop people from panicking or worrying or groaning," he conceded. "That's part and parcel of it.

"After eight games we will have played Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United - that's a real tough run. But there's no negativity here."