Stoke City boss Tony Pulis insists Michael Owen's injury problems are genuine.

Pulis knows such lay-offs will trigger whispers about Owen's fragile mentality after his well-publicised injury problems in recent years.

"I don't think Michael would say it's psychological, but he's protective, and rightly so," said Pulis.

"We're hoping Michael will be fit, not this week, but next week. He's hurt his hamstring, but he might be able to play against West Ham.

"It's been frustrating getting him injured because he's physically in good order.

"But we knew this might be a stop-start campaign for him, especially at the beginning."