Owen concentrates on Man United over England

LONDON - Michael Owen says he would rather force his way into the Manchester United team than wait for an England recall because he does not expect to play for the national side again while Fabio Capello is manager.

Owen, 31, England's fourth highest international scorer with 40 goals from his 89 internationals, re-ignited the debate about his future with two goals against Leeds United in a League Cup tie on Tuesday when he made his first appearance of the season.

However, the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle United forward said that he no longer expected to be part of Capello's plans but would never say, as many players have done, that he did not want to play for the national side.

"I was in every squad for over a decade and all of a sudden it stopped one day," he told Sunday's Observer newspaper.

"I would never turn my back on it, but obviously there's a scar there that still hurts a bit. But I don't get upset now when I'm not in the squad, like I used to.

"If I got a call-up I'd be there within five minutes.

"Fabio Capello picked his first squad and I was on the bench. I thought: 'This might be a sign that he doesn't fancy me.' The next time I wasn't in the squad, and that's just been that."

Owen earned global recognition during the World Cup in France in 1998 when, as an 18-year-old, he scored a brilliant individual goal against Argentina.

He scored consistently for his country until his last appearance in 2008 and only Bobby Charlton (49 goals), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44) have scored more for England.

Of more immediate concern to him now, though, is getting a regular place for United, but he admitted that was tough too, with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck all in contention.

"In many ways that's what harms your chance of a place - the fact we are so bloody good. The strikers are just fabulous," he said.