Pulis confirms Stoke duo dropped over pig's-head prank

The Potters manager says that the matter will be dealt with internally and a conclusion made public in a statement, while he and Mauricio Pochettino pay tribute to Michael Owen
Stoke City boss Tony Pulis has confirmed that he left Kenwyne Jones and Glenn Whelan out of the squad for Sunday's 1-1 draw with Southampton on Sunday after a training-ground prank.

The Potters striker found a pig's head in his locker on Friday and reacted angrily by smashing his team-mate's car windscreen; he has since apologised to the midfielder, who claims that he was not involved in the incident.

The manager explained that the "distraction" had prompted their withdrawal but rejected suggestions that the joke involved a religious undertone.

PLAYER RATINGS: Check out how both teams, including the retiring striker, fared in Southampton 1-1 Stoke City
"We kept Kenwyne and Glenn away becuase of that distraction," Pulis told reporters after the game. "I've spoken to the two lads, they understand and they were fine.

"It was a prank and everybody knows that. We'll deal with it in-house and let you know, there'll be a club statement.

"Some of the coverage of it has been pretty poor. One newspaper brings religion into it and that had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever. I was very, very disappointed to read that."

The 55-year-old also paid tribute to former England striker Michael Owen, who came off the bench at St Mary's Stadium to play the final game of his professional career.

"I thought the reception was fantastic but it was all deserved," Pulis enthused. "He's had a fantastic career. He's been a top, top player in this country.

"We've had him for a year; he hasn't played as many games as he would have liked but he's been absolutely fantastic around the place. He could have actually finished it off with a chance he had second half - that would have been an absolute belter for us and for himself.

20/1 Stoke are 20/1 with BetVictor to sign Peter Odemwingie this summer
"We wish him all the best. We hope he has as a successful career away from football as he's had in football."

Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino mirrored Pulis's praise of Owen - though joked that he was "very happy" that the striker did not score on Sunday after the penalty that he famously won against the Argentine at World Cup 2002.

The Saints boss then added he is looking forward to the summer break, especially after chairman Nicola Cortese's future with the club was confirmed in midweek.

"Is the summer ever going to arrive here!?" Pochettino joked. "From tomorrow we are going to start working and planning for the future of Southampton next season.

"The news during the week has given us a lot of calm and gives us a possibility to work in a more relaxing manner for next season so it's been very good news.

"The moment that we're able to know what players are with us next season we will be able to set ourselves goals. One thing is for sure, we want to be a lot higher than we are in the table today."