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england news

Capello leaves Owen out in the cold

March 30, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Fabio Capello has hinted that Michael Owen's England career may be over after calling up Darren Bent in the midst of a striker injury crisis.

Empics / MikeEgertonBent is targeting an England return.

The Newcastle United frontman was left out of Capello's squad for the friendly win over Slovakia and next week's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine, despite injuries to Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole at the weekend.

Owen has seen his chances of playing for his country limited under Capello with the Italian only giving the former Liverpool man one cap during his tenure and the 29-year-old has again been overlooked.

"I have to choose the players to play against Ukraine, not against history,'' said Capello. ''You have to choose the players who've played a lot of games.

''It's impossible to choose one player that played only 20 minutes [against Arsenal]. Why didn't he play longer in the last game? Because he was dropped. So I have to choose the players in good form. I choose the best players who are in a very fantastic moment."

Owen recently returned after seven weeks out with an ankle problem to start Newcastle's draw with Hull City, only to be dropped for the subsequent game against Arsenal; but he has 40 goals from 89 international caps.

The striker's injury problems have played their part, but he has been overlooked even when fit as Capello has favoured a more powerful frontman in the form of Emile Heskey to partner Wayne Rooney; while he has looked to young players like Theo Walcott and Gabriel Agbonlahor to provide pace.

With Heskey's injury the main concern, Bolton Wanderers' uncapped Kevin Davies has been linked with a call-up but Capello has been quick to play down such speculation, choosing Tottenham Hotspur's Bent as his backup striker.

"We have to choose the players I know better," said the Italian. "I know Bent and Agbonlahor, but he [Agbonlahor] was injured with the Under-21s."