Owen grabs lifeline and signs pay-as-you-play Stoke deal

FORMER England striker Michael Owen insists he cannot wait to play again after yesterday securing a return to the Premier League by joining Stoke City on a one-year deal.

Owen, a free agent since being released by Manchester United at the end of June, has been hampered by injuries in recent seasons but is hopeful of making a fresh start under his new manager Tony Pulis.

“We’ve been in talks for a while and it was a club I was always keen to join,” Owen said last night.

“I’m particularly excited at the prospect of working under Tony Pulis. He has assembled a great squad that I look forward to joining. I’m now looking forward to contributing as much as possible to the club and can’t wait to play in front of a great set of supporters.”

The 32-year-old, who won the most recent of his 89 England caps four years ago, is thought to have been given a pay-as-you-play deal, with a basic salary boosted by appearances.

Owen had been linked with a return to boyhood club Liverpool, who are eager to recruit a forward following Andy Carroll’s departure to West Ham United on loan. The Reds last night also looked to have failed with a late bid for former Italy forward Alessandro Del Piero, who is set to join FC Sydney instead.

Owen previously had spells with Real Madrid and Newcastle United, but made just one Premier League appearance for United last season.