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Premier League

Southampton 1 Stoke 1 match report: No fairy-tale ending for Michael Owen

Former England striker came off the bench but couldn't find back of the net

The Stoke manager Tony Pulis was coy on the incident between team-mates Kenwyne Jones and Glenn Whelan after the draw at Southampton and also about the so-called training ground prank that led to an internal investigation.

Jones did not travel to the south coast to face his former club, while Whelan continued to miss out through injury.

"We kept Kenwyne and Glenn away because of that distraction," Pulis said. "We didn't want to bring any distraction on the players, we wanted to focus on the game. I've spoken to the two lads, they understand. I've had a good chat with them. It was a prank and everybody knows that. One newspaper said it was about religion. That had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever."

Pulis heaped praise on Michael Owen, who came on for the final 15 minutes as the former England striker called time on his professional career yesterday.

Owen was given a standing ovation by all inside a sold-out St Mary's and, despite having failed to make a league start for Stoke, manager Pulis reflected on the influence Owen has had at the Britannia Stadium.

"It was always the plan to bring him on," he said. "He had a great chance in the second half to actually put the icing on the cake.

"If he had scored, I think even the Southampton supporters would have given him a round of applause.

"He got a great reception and he deserves it. He has been a very, very good pro for us and, not just his football side, he is a very, very good family man.

"We're pleased with the year he has been with us. He is good fun to work with and we wish him all the best for the future."

Southampton's immediate future looks a lot more settled after executive chairman Nicola Cortese ended speculation about his future by yesterday announcing he would stay at the club.The manager, Mauricio Pochettino, had pledged to follow the Italian out of the club and is pleased the situation has been resolved.

"I think that Nicola Cortese staying is the best possible news for next season," the Argentinian said. "That is very good for the squad, for the whole club. We will talk about the summer and the budgets with Nicola from tomorrow."