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Owen on verge of Stoke return

Michael Owen is determined to return to training this week and make up for lost time at Stoke City by proving that he can still make an impact in the Premier League.

• Blog: Honours even at Upton Park

With almost a third of the Premier League campaign completed, the former England striker's move to the Britannia Stadium has so far offered him few opportunities to demonstrate that he still has what it takes to operate at the highest level.

The 32-year-old has managed less than an hour of playing time in three substitute appearances for the Potters since signing a one-year contract in the summer following his release from Manchester United.

His longest spell on the field has been 25 minutes as a substitute in the 4-2 defeat against United at Old Trafford, and he has been sidelined with a hamstring problem since missing the trip to Norwich City on November 3.

But Owen is now close to a return and hopes to be involved for both Saturday's home game against Fulham and the meeting with Newcastle, another of his former clubs, at the Britannia Stadium the following Wednesday.

He used his Twitter account to reveal that he is close to recovering from the latest in a catalogue of injury problems which have blighted his career, tweeting: "I am nearly fit again and will be back training on Thursday."

Owen's contract contained heavy incentives for goals scored and appearances. So far, he has not made a first-team start in 12 games and has failed to score for his new club.

His possible appearance against Fulham will be the first time he has been included in the squad since Sir Alex Ferguson criticised Liverpool for over-using him as a young player and Pulis hinted that his injury problems could have a psychological element to them.

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