- Premier League
Owen on the slide at Stoke
Tony Pulis has confirmed that Michael Owen has slipped down his pecking order after announcing the former England international is fourth in line for an attacking place in Stoke City's trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Owen's return to fitness following an absence of more than a month with hamstring trouble has coincided with a rise in the stock of the two men immediately above him in Pulis' stable of strikers, Cameron Jerome and Kenwyne Jones.
Jones is expected to get the nod at The Hawthorns if Peter Crouch is ruled out as a result of the facial injuries he picked up in the win at home to Newcastle United on Wednesday. In the event of Stoke's leading scorer being ruled out, Owen will be on the substitutes' bench - otherwise the frustration of his first three months in the Potteries is set to continue.
Hinting that Jones is first in line to deputise in the lone forward role, Pulis said: "Cameron has been training and it's not fair that Michael steps in because of his name. I was really pleased for Cameron the other night because he has been very patient and could have gone out on loan but we stopped that because we needed him here."
Stoke have climbed into the top half of the table by winning three and drawing one of their last four games and Pulis is ready for a rare battle against an Albion side who were in the Premier League's top three until losing at Swansea in midweek. "It's a massive game," he said.
Full-back Andy Wilkinson is fit to return after injury but is likely to be on the substitutes' bench.