England striker Michael Owen believes he is ready to return to Premiership action this weekend.
His absence from Newcastle's first team since New Year's Eve, when he fractured a metatarsal bone in his foot in a collision with England colleague Paul Robinson at Tottenham, has threatened Owen's World Cup chances.
But the 26-year-old is ready to deliver the good news to Sven-Goran Eriksson that his recovery is going according to plan by playing as substitute against Birmingham.
Owen said in The Times: 'I've been training since Monday and it has been really good, much better than I thought.
'I was worried that I would have a bit of pain the more I played, but it has been great.'
Owen has been able to play a full part in training and stressed he has not been holding anything back, and providing he suffers no reaction then he seems certain to be on the bench for Glenn Roeder's team at St Andrews on Saturday.
The striker said: 'I haven't spoken to the manager in details yet, but I think it would be sensible, after being out for just under five months, to gradually give me maybe 20 minutes on Saturday and then more in the next game.'
Having risen to prominence at the 1998 World Cup, Owen is approaching his third finals and his second under Eriksson, who will depart after the tournament.
Portugal's Brazilian boss Luiz Felipe Scolari is now the firm favourite to be England's new manager, and even if there is no resolution on that issue before the World Cup, Owen believes he and his colleagues will be able to retain their focus on what matters most.
'Half the teams going to the World Cup are going to have a different manager for the next competition,' said Owen.
'The difference is that we'll know what is going to happen. The only time that has happened to England that I remember was with Terry Venables at Euro 96 and we didn't do badly there.'