MICHAEL OWEN admits that his partnership with England colleague Peter Crouch has been a fruitful one at the highest level in the past . . . but realises he’ll have to work hard to get a chance to play alongside him for Stoke City this season.
The pair have formed a potent strike-force at international level in previous years, but Owen isn’t taking anything for granted at the start of his time with Stoke City and says there is plenty of competition in the forward areas at the Club.
Owen and Crouch scored 16 goals in as many internationals together and featured regularly during the reign of Sven Goran Eriksson.
“There’s no doubt that I’ve played with Peter a number of times and we’ve done pretty well together, that’s there for all to see,” he said when he was introduced to the media at a press conference this week.
“It would be pretty disrespectful, though, for me to come in and say ‘I’m looking forward to playing with Peter Crouch’. There are a lot of good players here, and it’s certainly not in my contract that I’ll be starting every game.
“Hopefully, I can play more than I have done in the last couple of years, but I’ve got no divine right to do so, so I don’t want to be disrespectful.”
Plenty has been said about his lack of match time over recent seasons, but Owen says he’s hungry and maybe even has something to prove to his doubters despite his illustrious career.
“I suppose I have a lot to prove – to prove that I can stand the full rigours of a season,” he added.
“My main wish is to be fit for the majority of the season and it would be foolish to wish for anything more, especially after the injuries I had last season.
“From the Club’s point of view, that’s the slight risk in bringing me here but I would think and I’m sure they think that it’s a risk worth taking.
“The word I’m getting from the staff here is that I’m pretty much in the pack in terms of fitness, which is good news.”
After a protracted summer with the deal to snap up the 32-year-old free agent eventually being completed after the end of the transfer window, Owen is happy to have what he described as some ‘anticipation’ back.
“Obviously I’m very pleased to sign here – it ticks an awful lot of boxes,” he said.
“The manager has been keen to sign me for a number of years, and it’s nice to feel wanted and to have a bit of anticipation again within myself and hopefully amongst the fans.
“It’s a Club that everyone can see with their own eyes that’s been on an upward curve for a while. It’s certainly an exciting time to join.”