Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We Are All Keen to Impress

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We Are All Keen to Impress

Article excerpt

Michael Owen has admitted England are "desperate" to end their World Cup qualification programme on a high note against Poland tonight.

But the Newcastle striker also claimed events at Old Trafford and subsequent friendly internationals would have little bearing on how Sven-Goran Eriksson's side perform next summer.

Stand-in skipper Owen, deputising for the suspended David Beckham, is confident England will attain heights not seen in their opening four matches of the 2005/2006 campaign when they head for Germany next June.

But in the meantime, the St James' Park striker wants to give supporters a lift and reaffirm a belief in the players which has been knocked after disappointing displays against Denmark, Wales, Northern Ireland and Austria.

Owen said: "Because of what has happened over the last few games we are desperate for a performance against Poland.

"You get the feeling that now we have qualified the performance has got a bit more significance and we are all keen to perform well.

"We want, more so than ever, to put on a good display. The country needs a boost. The fans and the manager deserve a good performance and the players owe it to themselves to put one on as well.

"Now we have qualified for Germany hopefully we can relax a bit more and it will not be quite so result-orientated.

"If it is a flat performance there will be more criticism but it won't change the chances we've got of winning the World Cup.

"We'll get to the World Cup next June and be seriously focused, playing really top teams. But you look at the players in our squad and you know we are not going to lie down to anyone.

"Whatever happens against Poland won't affect our chances in the World Cup. No matter what our form is like going into the World Cup we will produce against the big teams. I am sure of that."

Owen added: "Hopefully, from this game and the friendlies coming up, we can gain a bit more confidence and generate a bit of a buzz around the country again. …

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