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Owen in contention for Stoke return
Stoke striker Michael Owen could make his first-team comeback against his old club when Liverpool visit the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day.
Owen, who has not played for the Potters since October 27 due a hamstring problem, has been working on his fitness and may be ready to feature in the 7.45pm Barclays Premier League kick-off.
Owen has plenty of happy memories from his time at Liverpool, but does not look back too fondly on the occasions he has played against them.
The former England international enjoyed the most prolific days of his career at Liverpool, where he came through the youth ranks.
Since leaving the Reds in 2004 though, he has failed to score a single goal against them and Owen admits he has rarely had much fun when being on the opposing team.
The 33-year-old will be hoping the trend changes when the Potters host Liverpool.
Owen - who departed Anfield for Real Madrid and moved on to Newcastle and Manchester United before joining Stoke this season - told Independent Sports News: "It is a strange feeling really playing against your old club, especially one where you were there for around 15 years.
"Liverpool are a big part of my life and career and I had some of the best times of my life at the club.
"So certainly I have happy memories. I have not been so happy playing against them since; I have never scored and not particularly enjoyed it."
It remains to be seen whether or not another former Red, midfielder Charlie Adam, will be involved after he missed Saturday's 0-0 draw at Tottenham having been granted compassionate leave following the death of his father.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has no new injury problems.
Winger Raheem Sterling may come back into the side having been rested for the victory over Fulham.
Midfielder Joe Allen, however, may remain on the bench as Rodgers said they were managing a pelvic problem with the Wales international.
Winger Stewart Downing is set to play again and admits Rodgers telling him he could leave provided a "kick up the backside".
He insists he never wanted to move on but the message from the Northern Irishman meant he had to start seriously considering he may not have a future at Anfield.
Downing was left confused and surprised by his continued absence from the first team - hinting that the decision had not been made on football grounds.
"I wanted to stay, I didn't want to leave but it was out of my hands," said the 28-year-old.
"I was out of the team and frustrated and I said if something big came up I'd look at it.
"We had that conversation and, to be honest, I thought I was on my way in January.
"I was a little bit surprised when he (Rodgers) said I could go. "He came in and was pleased with me at the start and then all of a sudden things changed quickly and I could go.
"I don't know who makes that decision but one minute I was being told I was doing well and the next I was told I could go. It was a bit confusing.
"But it is a kick up the backside. I then had nothing to lose as I was going.
"If it was a gee-up for me then maybe it's worked because the performances are coming now."
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