TONY PULIS is hoping to have Glenn Whelan back in contention for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Sunderland . . . after confirming the Republic of Ireland ace has returned to training following a hamstring injury.
The 28-year old midfielder, who picked up the injury against Liverpool earlier this month, missed the Potters' 4-2 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend, whilst he was also ruled out of Ireland's two World Cup Qualifiers against Germany and Faroe Islands.
However, speaking at the pre-match press conference on Thursday afternoon Pulis confirmed that the former Sheffield Wednesday man will come back under consideration for a return to the starting eleven should he come through the next 24 hours unscathed.
"We will see how Glenn is between now and kick-off," the City boss said. "He has had this injury for a couple of weeks now and we are hoping to get him back in to things again.
"He has returned to training again today (Thursday) having not trained during the rest of the week, so we will have another look at him tomorrow and then assess what we are going to do on Saturday."
Should Whelan miss out on a return to the team on Saturday then Pulis is likely to keep faith with the same starting eleven which ran title challengers Manchester United close last week.
That would once again mean a spot on the bench for England star Michael Owen, with Pulis insisting that he won't be rushed into thrusting the 32-year-old into the firing line.
"We will use Michael when we feel it is right to use Michael; just as we will with Matty (Etherington), Kenwyne (Jones) and the other lads like Deano (Dean Whitehead).
"He (Michael) came on at Old Trafford last weekend and he looked pretty sharp - he was unfortunate not to score too. We have to get him fully fit though before we throw him in though, that is important.
He added: "I don't see him as an impact player, he is somebody I am hoping can come into the team and be of a huge help to us. But we have to make sure he is fully fit when we do bring him in."