Owen on England: I've fallen off map

Michael Owen is hoping that his surprise move to Manchester United will put the out-of-favour striker back in the frame for an England recall for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa.

The 29-year-old says that he is enjoying a new lease of life at Old Trafford after feeling "strangled" at Newcastle United until his departure at the end of last season.

"Yes, I have to play more. I am sure with the amount of games we have got, so many cup competitions, I will start my fair share," said Owen, who has scored 40 times for his country.

"After that, it's down to how I play and whether the [England] manager [Fabio Capello] wants me or not.

"But I never ask Wayne Rooney how an England trip was. I know how it is. I have done it 89 times. Now it's not like I have dropped down a step into the squad but fallen off the map.

"I am passionate as ever about extending my time with England. I'm not past it."

The former Liverpool legend said that he was sitting at home after leaving Newcastle and wondering where his career was heading when former team mate Nicky Butt told him in a phonecall that Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was interested in signing him.


The next call was from Ferguson himself.

"He said: 'We are looking for a striker. Carlos (Tevez) is leaving. We went for (Karim) Benzema and once that was a no-go we looked around for players who are going to score goals.

"Obviously the big question is if you are fit - then it's a no-brainer. Others will see it as a risk but I don't'."

Newcastle were relegated at the end of last season and an out-of-contract Owen left the club to consider his options.

"I felt I was at a dead end but that a road would open up. I am still only 29," he added.

"The hamstring problems early in my career knocked a yard off my pace straight away but since then I have been the same player. I am 100 percent the same player I was in Munich [when he scored a hat-trick for England in 2001].

"If there is 10 yards to spring the offside and take a shot, there is no one who will catch me. I have those first quick strides but it is not just speed but reactions, game awareness and experience.

"I've always known where a ball is going to drop more than others. If anything I have improved."

Former Real Madrid player Owen has scored two goals in eight appearances this season, with his winning goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time in the 4-3 derby triumph over Manchester City on September 20 making him an instant hero at Old Trafford.

"To score such a dramatic goal against your arch rivals did a lot for me. I'd contributed to winning a game. I felt part of the club. I felt great among the lads and the fans."