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Owen ready for Premier League return

Michael Owen is ready to end a near 12-month wait to return to the Premier League stage after declaring himself fit to play against Manchester City on Saturday.

Owen, 32, has not made a league appearance since last September, when Manchester United took on his new club Stoke.

And after missing pre-season, the striker has been working overtime since moving to the Britannia Stadium on a one-year deal on transfer deadline day last month.

The former United man has been volunteering for double training sessions with the Stoke coaching staff and despite just nine full days of fitness work, he believes can play a part against the champions.

"I feel in pretty good condition and I have been working very hard. I know I have missed pre-season, but I have worked hard all summer," Owen said. "At the moment I am not sure what the manager has got in store for the game at the weekend.

"I feel as if I am fit enough to take part in a game and that I can contribute in some way. I'm not quite 100% 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."

Owen has had a catalogue of injury problems during his career and only played four times last season but despite his limited fitness work Stoke boss Tony Pulis has not ruled out his inclusion for this weekend.

"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. It is too early to say yet about the game. We won't be making any decision on whether he will be in the squad until Friday, but I'm certainly not ruling him out."

Owen's arrival has led to expectations of him resuming his England partnership with Peter Crouch, which puts added pressure on Jon Walters to retain his place in the side.

But Walters is happy for the competition for places at the Britannia, which he feels will only help the club.

"It's always good to have a battle on your hands to earn that spot in the team," he said. "That can only be a good thing for the manager, because it gives him plenty of options coming into games and it also means that the players have to stay on their toes and keep producing the goods."


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