Pulis promises Owen a 'fond' farewell

Stoke manager Tony Pulis has promised Michael Owen a send-off this weekend as the striker calls time on his professional career.

Football News: Michael Owen, Stoke

While David Beckham has hogged the headlines since announcing his decision to quit playing this week, Owen could easily be overlooked, and understandably so.

Beckham bows out after helping Paris St Germain win Ligue 1 - picking up a title winner's medal in four different countries.

By contrast Owen, who announced in March he would be retiring at the end of the season, has barely kicked a ball in anger since joining Stoke last September.

Injuries have hindered the 33-year-old's cause to allow him just 130 minutes over eight appearances, including one start, with just a 15-minute cameo in the last two and a half months.

For a player who scored 158 goals in 297 matches for Liverpool and 40 in 89 games for England, Owen has found the net just once since October 2011, that strike arriving in Stoke's 3-1 defeat at Swansea four months ago.

Pulis has confirmed Owen will be part of the squad for Sunday's final Barclays Premier League game of the season at Southampton, although whether he will give him a brief outing to say goodbye he would not say.

"He has been fantastic around the place. He has been a really, really good lad," said Pulis.

"He's not had the playing time he's wanted, and I know he has been disappointed with that.

"But he's been good around the place, very supportive of the players who have enjoyed his company.

"He has certainly got a lot closer to them as the season has gone on, and that has been nice to see, him blossom within the group.

"I know people have been talking about Beckham and his career, well, Michael's career has been absolutely outstanding.

"A lot of people will say Michael had a career as good as Beckham's in lots of respects.

"So there will be a send off for him at Southampton on Sunday for what has been an absolutely wonderful career.

"As to whether he'll play, I'll be telling him first before anybody else."

As for Pulis' career as Stoke boss, he is planning for the future regardless of what might unfold over the next few weeks.

Pulis was in Spain earlier this week running the rule over a player which led to him missing the club's player-of-the-year awards night.

With other European leagues not finishing for another couple of weeks and with internationals beyond that, Pulis will be busy scouting.

But directly asked whether he would be at the club next season, he replied: "I hope so."

Pressed on why he could only say 'hope', Pulis added: "If I said hope, then I want to be here."

Questioned as to whether he was the man to carry on bringing success to the club, he said: "Seven years ago I said I was very proud to be Stoke City manager.

"I'm stood here today and I'm still very proud to be Stoke City manager."


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