Owen set to feature, but at whose expense?

Posted by James Whittaker

Michael Steele/Getty ImagesMichael Owen, right, has been a familiar face in the Stoke dugout this season

I'm not sure how other Stoke fans felt when Michael Owen Tuesday declared himself to be fit for Saturday, but I could only think of who would be unjustifiably dropped to accommodate a player who has spent more time on our television screens than our pitch since he signed?

Many will say that as a pay-as-you-play signing is not costing the club anything while he gets on first-name terms with the medical team. But Owen is still receiving a significant weekly wage regardless, one 99 percent of fans could only dream of.

Another argument is Owen is ‘raising Stoke’s profile’ - I’m not too sure that’s true either as the extent he talks about the club is when the latest presenter asks "How are you?", and as soon as he replies "I’m still injured,” the conversation moves swiftly onto Manchester United or Liverpool.

Tony Pulis is a big believer in getting that extra 10 percent out of a player by playing him against his hometown/previous club, so the prospect of pitting Owen against Everton Saturday prove too much to resist.

Should that prove to be the case, it would be at the expense of others who are more deserving and who have impressed at various stages of the season, and to lose out to someone who is on a 12-month deal and seen less minutes on the Britannia than yours truly, is a bit galling.

I think it’s widely accepted Owen would have been on the bench for the Newcastle game had he been fit, which would have denied us of Cameron Jerome’s impact since that match - will it be Jerome who has to make way Saturday?

Then there is Kenwyne Jones, who himself has played a massive part in the absence of Pulis’ record signing, Peter Crouch - he’d be unlucky to be benched let alone left out of the squad altogether so all fingers would appear to point to Jerome being the unlucky one.

Stoke fans will be disappointed if that is the case as Jerome gives us a pacy option from the bench, one who has shown he can turn games around when called upon, I’m not sure we would view Owen in the same vein, especially as he doesn’t seem to logically slot into one of our established roles.

This could all be academic and Pulis might be happy having three strikers on the bench. But back in the real world, I think the possibility of that happening are as likely as Mr. Owen staying fit for the remainder of the season. If the writing on the wall isn’t already there for Jerome, I’ve no doubt it will be should my prediction play out, which is a bizarre thing to come to terms with given Pulis chased Jerome for so long and indeed valued him at around £7m last year.

I may well be worrying about nothing. After all, it’s a massive four days until Everton and Owen has been pencilled in for a behind-closed-doors friendly Tuesday, so I guess we’ll have to see if he manages to come through unscathed.

Either way, the spotlight is firmly on both himself and the manager to salvage something from such a highly publicised deal taking so long to conclude and one from which we're yet to see any tangible return.

Vis Unita Fortior

ESPN Conversations