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Ferguson says Owen may struggle to stake World Cup bid

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen
Owen replaces Rooney in the 76th minute of the match against Wolves

Sir Alex Ferguson admits his reluctance to leave out Wayne Rooney may make it difficult for Michael Owen to play enough to stake a World Cup claim.

Owen has appeared in 14 of United's 20 league games so far but started only four and last played a full top-flight match against Everton on 21 November.

"We'll try and get him to the World Cup as best we can. But it is difficult when you have a squad of our size.

"It is difficult to leave Rooney out of your team," said the United manager.

"That's the thing, I think he's identical to Wayne in the position he plays, which is further up the pitch with Dimitar Berbatov in your team.

"The combinations are more likely to be Berbatov and Owen or Berbatov and Rooney.

"With Rooney and Owen together you would have to drop Rooney in the hole and I prefer to play him further up the pitch."

Rooney is joint-top of the Premier League scoring charts with 14 goals and has turned in man-of-the-match performances against Hull and Wigan in United's last two matches while Owen has been an unused substitute.

606: DEBATE

The 30-year-old reignited calls for his inclusion in Fabio Capello's England squad with a hat-trick against Wolfsburg in United's final Champions League group game on 8 November.

But he has played just three times since, with his last appearance as part of an unsuccessful strike partnership with Rooney in a 3-0 defeat away to Fulham.

The last of Owen's 89 caps - and his only one under Capello - came as a substitute in a 1-0 friendly defeat to France in March 2008.

England will play a friendly against Egypt on 3 March with the 23-man squad for the World Cup in South Africa expected to be announced in mid-May.



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see also
Man Utd 5-0 Wigan
30 Dec 09 |  Premier League
Hull 1-3 Man Utd
27 Dec 09 |  Premier League
Owen hat-trick delights Ferguson
09 Dec 09 |  Man Utd
Wolfsburg 1-3 Man Utd
08 Dec 09 |  Europe
Owen completes switch to Man Utd
03 Jul 09 |  Man Utd
France 1-0 England
26 Mar 08 |  Internationals


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