Is Michael Owen’s England career over?
It’s a sorry tale of how a wonder-kid, who lit the World Cup alight in 1998, has suffered a string of injuries, resulting in a diminishing international career when he should be in his peak.
Michael Owen’s goal against Argentina will always be remembered as one of the highlights of France 98. A fantastic run capped by an emphatic finish – and all at the tender age of 18. Arguably, upon reflection, Owen was at the peak of his England career.
Sadly, since then his international and club careers have slowly veered off-course. Since his move to Real Madrid and subsequently Newcastle United he has suffered reoccurring injuries which have seen him lose his regular starting place in the national team.
Under Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, when fit, Owen was an almost automatic choice. With the arrival of the no-nonsense Italian Fabio Capello this has all changed. None of England’s big guns are guaranteed a starting place – and certainly not Owen.
Owen did not received a call up for the friendly against Slovakia and the qualifier against Ukraine. He has failed to make any of Capello’s recent squads. Albeit Owen is returning from injury, Capello seems to see no place for him in his squad.
Capello has suggested previously, that Owen would be considered once he was playing regularly for Newcastle, yet this hasn’t happened. The inclusion of the likes of Darren Bent and Carlton Cole ahead of the Newcastle number 10 would seem to indicate that Owen has fallen even further down the pecking order.
Of course Owen isn’t the same player he was. He has lost his speed and has put on more muscle mass in an attempt to counter this. But one thing he hasn’t lost is his clinical finish.
Surely if England veteran David Beckham is still considered an effect weapon from the bench, Owen could be also used in this way. If a golden goalscoring opportunity was to fall to any English forward, I know I would want Michael Owen on the end of it.
Owen is held in high regard worldwide. He has deservedly created a name for himself over the years as one of the world’s best finishers – defenders still fear him.
For now he may not be in the squad but goals will change that. If he can overcome these niggling injuries that he is suffering from, get a regular run in the Newcastle team and bag himself a few goals then it will only be a matter of time before Capello has to consider his inclusion seriously.