Stoke striker Owen nears return to action

Stoke City's Michael Owen played 70 minutes in a closed-door friendly against Preston North End on Tuesday, but is unlikely to be risked in Saturday's Premier League clash against Everton.

The 32-year-old former England striker has made just four appearances for the club since joining on a pay-as-you-play contract in September having been hampered by groin and hamstring injuries.

"We have maybe pushed Michael a little bit too hard at times, so we want to give him another week, and maybe fit another game in for him in that time too," manager Tony Pulis told the club's website on Thursday.

"We need to make sure he is ready when we do include him again."

Pulis also said Charlie Adam was likely to return to the starting line-up, having missed the goalless draw with Aston Villa at the weekend through suspension.

Unbeaten in six matches, Stoke play three of the next four games at the Britannia Stadium and will look to improve on their ninth place in the Premier League standings.