Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Will Not Panic, Says Defiant Owen

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Will Not Panic, Says Defiant Owen

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

MICHAEL OWEN today said England's players took the recent criticism "with a pinch of salt". The Real Madrid striker, talking today ahead of tomorrow's World Cup qualifier in Poland, said: "We're not panicking at all and we take the criticism with a pinch of salt. If we had got beaten then I would still have the utmost belief in our team that we could still progress to the World Cup finals. We've started off far worse in other competitions," Owen, who missed chances in the disappointing 2-2 draw with Austria in Vienna last Saturday, added: "Just because we drew the other night doesn't make us a bad team overnight. We've proven down the years that we can compete with the rest. With a bit more luck we could have had a couple of major championships under our belt.

"The team will stick together more and turn people from negative to positive.

"You get one bad result and everything gets questioned, from David Beckham, to the goalkeeper, everyone gets questioned.

"If we get four points out of two very tough away games then we'll be happy.

"A point is not perfect but we can take positives from the game. Even though we drew against Austria, they were thanking their lucky stars for a point."

One of the main targets for criticism was goalkeeper David James and Sven-Goran Eriksson will consult coach Ray Clemence before deciding whether to pick him for tomorrow's match in Katowice.

James made the mistake which cost England two points in their opening group match against Austria and Eriksson is considering his options before naming his team to face a Polish side who are early group leaders following their 3-0 victory over Northern Ireland at Windsor Park.

Manchester City keeper James also came in for some criticism during Euro 2004, especially following England's opening group match against France but is still favourite to retain his place because it would be a risk to select the comparatively inexperienced Tottenham goalkeeper Paul Robinson for a such an important game.

However Eriksson respects Clemence's opinion and is keen to have the input of the former England goalkeeper, who trained oneonone with James yesterday, before coming to a final decision. …

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