Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Owen Looking Superb, Says England Boss

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Owen Looking Superb, Says England Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: By Matt Barlow

Sven-gUran Eriksson says he has never seen Michael Owen in such red-hot form. Eriksson has been impressed by the sharpness of the Newcastle striker since the World Cup squad met last week.

Owen will captain England's B team against a Belarus side on Thursday, where he will start up front with Peter Crouch.

Eriksson wants to give vital match-practice to Owen, who has played only 30 minutes of competitive football since breaking his foot on New Year's Eve.

He also wants the Newcastle striker to work on his partnership with Crouch because they could form England's strikeforce in the first game of the World Cup finals, against Paraguay.

Eriksson said: "We will probably play Peter Crouch and Michael Owen up front because Michael needs games.

"I'm not worried about Michael. From what I saw last week in training, I am very happy with him.

"In training, he was excellent and when we played he was absolutely on fire. I don't think I've seen Michael Owen in such good shape for many years. He will start the game and it would be good for him if he could play 90 minutes."

Owen and Crouch linked up well against Argentina last year. Crouch came off the bench and helped Owen scored twice as England fought back from behind to win 3-2.

Eriksson has already admitted Owen and Crouch would be his likely strikeforce if Wayne Rooney fails to recover from his broken foot in time for the Paraguay game.

This could change in the warm-up games. England have friendlies against Hungary and Jamaica but first is the B game against Belarus at Reading's Madejski Stadium.

Theo Walcott, the shock inclusion when Eriksson named his World Cup squad a fortnight ago, will probably appear as a sub against Belarus.

Eriksson said: "Maybe he will not start but the plan is for him to come on at some stage in the game. …

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