Premier League - Pulis puts Owen return on hold

Michael Owen's hopes of receiving a welcome birthday present from Stoke manager Tony Pulis have been put on hold.

Owen declared himself "raring to go" after coming through 70 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday in a bid to step up his fitness after struggling with groin and hamstring niggles.

Ahead of Saturday's visit of Everton to the Britannia Stadium there was the prospect of Owen making his first appearance for Stoke since October 27, the last of his four substitute outings since joining the club at the start of September.

But ahead of the former England striker's 33rd birthday on Friday, Pulis says Owen still needs at least another week of fitness work and another reserve outing before he can be thrown into the first team.

Pulis said: "Michael did smashing on Tuesday, came through 70 minutes, but he needs more work on the training ground, a bit more strength.

"He needs another couple of weeks of full training, another game or two first before we chuck him back in.

"That's because every time we've tried to get him in there he has broken down, and maybe that's because we've tried to push him a little bit."