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Crouch confident for United game

Peter Crouch believes Stoke City are better equipped than ever to end their miserable run of defeats at Old Trafford.

Stoke have lost on every trip to face Manchester United since they returned to the Premier League in 2008 and Crouch, 31, knows they will face their toughest test of an incredibly difficult start to the season when they return to Premier League duty after the international break.

The Potters have picked up eight points from their opening seven games, but their visit to Old Trafford follows games against Arsenal, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Despite not picking up too many points, the England international feels his side can take heart from securing a draw at Anfield and running Chelsea so close - the Blues needed an 85th-minute winner from Ashley Cole.

"Anfield is a tough place to go. So to get a point there is fantastic," Crouch said. "We had chances to maybe nick it too, so it was a deserved point.

"The Chelsea game was frustrating because we felt we could have got something out of it. We got something at Liverpool. The bigger test will be at United but we are looking forward to it.

"We have had some tough games so far. So to get the points we have has been brilliant. It has given us a good foothold and confidence. We will look to improve on that when we get some easier fixtures."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis expects to have Michael Owen back for the United fixture thanks to a new exercise regime designed to help cut down on the number of injuries suffered by the striker.

Owen, 32, has been given a regime of back-strengthening exercises aimed at reducing muscle damage, after missing the Liverpool game with a slight groin strain, and Pulis is confident his medical team will help the former Liverpool man become more resistant to injuries.

"We do well on injuries," Pulis said. "I think we were the second best in the Premier League last year in terms of how few players we lost to muscle problems. That's because we work hard. The players do a lot of pre-work - before we train, never mind before games.

"We are very conscious that a lot of problems, whether hamstrings or whatever, actually come from the back. We work hard at strengthening those areas."

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