Stoke wary of Owen expense

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The Independent Football

Stoke chairman Peter Coates has admitted his club would have to take Michael Owen's injury history and cost into account before launching a serious bid to sign him.

Manager Tony Pulis confirmed earlier this week he would be interested in talking to the 29-year-old, who becomes a free agent next week after four seasons at Newcastle.

Owen managed just 79 appearances for the Magpies after suffering two serious injuries and a series of other niggling complaints, and his absences proved hugely costly for a club which paid £17million for his services and around £20million in wages.

There would, of course, be no fee this time around as he looks for a new club, but Coates knows the cost implications would still be significant.

He told Sky Sports News: "If I said to Tony, 'Would you like Michael Owen'? he would probably say 'Yes'.

"But equally, you have got to look at it in the round, haven't you? It isn't just Michael Owen, it's the impact it has on your squad, the impact it could have on your wage bill.

"There is always the worry with Michael, because of recent years, how often is he going to play? They are no good to you if they are not playing, and it is more painful than ever if you are having to pay them a lot of wages.

"A factor with Michael is there is no transfer fee, obviously, and that would be attractive for everybody.

"But you have got to look at the other things."

Stoke and Hull are the only two English clubs to have acknowledged an interest in Owen to date, although others at home and abroad are understood to be monitoring developments.

Coates insists no approach has been made yet, but confirmed that Stoke would continue to keep an eye on his situation.

Asked if he had been in contact with Owen's representatives, he said: "I haven't and I don't know that any of my team have. I don't believe we have, not at this stage.

"We haven't really discussed Michael at this stage. We know he's about. He has been a terrific player, he's a very nice man.

"I don't know what options Michael has got - obviously, we are not privy to his position, what alternatives and what options he has got and where he might go.

"We will still keep an eye on it, that's about as much as I would say.

"He has been a fabulous player for Liverpool and England.

"He has had a lean time, but I am sure he doesn't feel finished and hopefully from his point of view, he is not.

"We will have to see how things develop on that front. But equally, I am sure they will have their ear to the ground."