England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has admitted he could be willing to gamble on Michael Owen's fitness when he names his World Cup squad on 8 May.
Owen broke his foot on New Year's Eve
"Michael Owen is Michael Owen and he is our best goalscorer, so maybe," Eriksson told BBC Radio Five Live.
"But of course it's a big advantage to take 23 players with no injuries, so hopefully that will not happen."
Newcastle striker Owen, 26, fractured a metatarsal on 31 December last year and has not played since then.
Eriksson selected David Beckham for the 2002 World Cup when the England skipper was hampered by the same injury Owen now has.
But Beckham was clearly short of fitness throughout the tournament and failed to shine.
And he was criticised for pulling out of a tackle in the move that led to Brazil's equaliser in their 2-1 victory over England in the quarter-finals.
Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Kieron Dyer, Jonathan Woodgate, Wayne Bridge and Owen Hargreaves are also sidelined as the deadline approaches for Eriksson to name his 23-man squad.
"I have concerns about all of them - we're in the middle of March and the season finishes at the beginning of May," Eriksson said.
"I hope all of them will be on the pitch very soon.
"I spoke to Ashley Cole twice recently and he thinks he will be back in training soon.
"Michael Owen is supposed to be ready very soon and Sol Campbell played in a reserve game on Tuesday and that's very good news."
Eriksson was speaking in Germany while on a fact-finding mission to check on the training and hotel facilities at England's remote World Cup base in the Black Forest.