Owen: England snub left me numb

LONDON - Michael Owen said being left out of Fabio Capello's England squad used to leave him feeling numb but now accepts time is running out on his dream of playing in this year's World Cup.

"England's bigger than Michael Owen anyway," the Manchester United striker told Saturday's Guardian newspaper.

"I'd love to play for my country and go to a World Cup again. I've got to accept I'm not in the current squad and just think, 'If I get it, it's a bonus and I'll give it everything.' But it's hard to do when you've been thinking a different way all your life."

The striker has 40 goals in 89 appearances and is fourth on his country's goal-scoring list.

While his exclusion from England's squad under Capello still hurts, Owen said he had learnt to deal with it.

"When I first wasn't included I was numb. I'd been the main England striker for years and years. It was really disappointing, upsetting. For the next few days you're trying to get your head round it," he said.

"Then you're not in the next squad and you're numb and you do the inquiring in your head again, then you're not in the third squad and you gradually come to the point where you say, 'OK, I'm not in the squad for whatever reason.'

"I've handled that in my own way. If you thought about it too long you might think, 'Right, I'm a crap player because I can't get in the England squad' but I'm confident in my own ability," added Owen.

"If that wasn't the case you might as well pack it in now. If you think too much, you start doubting yourself."


Owen had hoped his surprise transfer to United on a free transfer last year would rekindle his international career but instead he has not featured in an England squad since moving to Old Trafford.

His only appearance for Capello's team was almost two years ago. However the former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle United player still believes he could do a job at the World Cup.

"I make sure I'm in a mindset that if I did have to pack my bags to go to South Africa I'd be right with it," he said.

"I've watched all the games. I know what the manager is looking for, even though I'm not there listening."

The former European Footballer of the Year has started just four league games for United this season although he did remind his critics of his goal-scoring prowess by scoring a hat-trick against VfL Wolfsburg in the Champions League in December.

Despite his lack of starts at United, Owen says he has no regrets about joining the Premier League champions.

"I was under no illusions I was going to be in the first-choice pairing," he said. "Nothing's changed in that way.

"But I've been involved in more squads than anyone in the building. I've come on in a lot of games. I've started a few.

"Yeah, I want to play a bit more but I've never once considered asking the manager, 'Can I play in this game?' or telling him I think I should play more because I knew what I was buying into. I'm totally comfortable with it."