Owen targets goal against Reds

Michael Tonge has confirmed he wants to sign a permanent deal

with Leeds United following the end of his loan spell.

The 29-year-old midfielder, who joined Leeds on loan from Stoke

in September, has made 22 appearances for Neil Warnock’s side, who

have won five of their last six npower Championship matches.

“I’m gutted it’s finished,” said Tonge, whose contract at Stoke

expires at the end of the season. “Obviously I can’t play now until

something’s sorted because my loan has finished now.

“When you’re on a roll you want to keep playing and hopefully

the lads will keep playing like that and getting the points. I

wanted to keep playing, but it’s the way it works with 93 days.

“When I first came here we were thin on the ground with

injuries, but now there’s competition all over and that gets an

extra 10% out of people. If we can keep that together, we’ll make a


Tonge, who began his career at Sheffield United and made almost

300 first-team appearances under then Blades boss Warnock, added on

Leeds’ official website: “We’ve beaten some good sides and we know

what we can do.

“We just need to keep going. We’re desperate to get in the top

six and I’m desperate to come back and help the lads, so fingers


Stoke striker Michael 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


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 on Boxing Day

when the Potters host Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League, a

game in which he could make his first Stoke appearance since

October 27 having overcome a hamstring problem.

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.”

Stoke, currently ninth in the table, head into the clash with

eighth-placed Liverpool in fine form.

Tony Pulis’ men are unbeaten in their last eight matches and

Owen is optimistic they can keep the run going.

“I don’t see any reason why not,” Owen said. “We had a really

tough start to the season and we picked up points against some of

the big teams.

“Then we went into a period of games where you would look at

them on paper and say we had a chance of picking up points, and we

have duly done that.

“We are on a nice run of form. Every game is tough in the

Premier League, but there is no reason why we can’t continue


While a maiden top-10 Premier League finish looks a realistic

prospect and a European berth is not beyond the realms of

possibility, Pulis has continually insisted he will focus on no

other target than reaching 40 points.

Owen shares his manager’s sentiments on the matter, adding: “I

think our ambitions are probably still the same.

“First and foremost everyone wants to survive in the league, no

matter what team you play for, so you want to hit that magic 40

points before you start dreaming about anything else.

“Then once you have done that, you want to finish the season as

well as you can and get as high as you can.

“The club were in Europe last year (in the Europa League after

reaching the 2011 FA Cup Final) and that was a fantastic


“We know that is possible, but first and foremost it is about

getting to 40 points and then we’ll reassess from there.”

It remains to be seen whether another of Stoke’s former

Liverpool players, midfielder Charlie Adam, will be involved on

Boxing Day after he missed Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Tottenham having

been granted compassionate leave following the death of his