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Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Saturday, 17 November 2007



England striker Michael Owen goes off with a thigh strain in the win over Austria
Owen endured more injury woes in the win over Austria

Michael Owen will miss England's Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia on Wednesday after suffering an injury in the 1-0 friendly win in Austria.

The Newcastle striker went off in the first half and BBC Sport understands the injury is worse than first thought as he has torn a muscle in his thigh.

"It's a massive blow," said England manager Steve McClaren.

England will need to beat Croatia or draw if results in Saturday's qualifying matches go their way.

If Russia draw in Israel then England will need to beat Croatia but a loss for Russia would see England needing a point on Wednesday at Wembley.

A loss for Croatia would see England needing to beat them by two goals or more to book a place in next summer's finals.

606: DEBATE

McClaren is already without forward Wayne Rooney with an ankle injury and the absence of Owen will leave him short of options up front.

Speaking immediately after the match, McClaren said: "It was a strange one, it was Michael's standing foot.

"He's pulled his thigh and unfortunately he's out."

BBC Sport understands Owen could be out of action for more than a month with his latest injury setback.

Liverpool striker Peter Crouch scored the winner in the victory over Austria and would be the most likely to lead the attack.

Jermain Defoe could come into the reckoning or McClaren may opt to play five in midfield with either Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in a more advanced role.

"I do believe we do need to win against Croatia but we go into that game without two centre-halves and two strikers we would pick," added McClaren.

The problems at centre-back see John Terry out with a knee injury while Rio Ferdinand is suspended.

"It's disappointing but I believe and hope that Wednesday will be important.

"I believe there's enough in that dressing room and the squad has enough spirit that we will do it."

But McClaren was buoyed by the performance of Sol Campbell and Joleon Lescott in central defence in Austria as well as the display of Micah Richards when he moved into the middle from right-back.

"In the first half, we got quite a lot out of it," said McClaren. "It was good but we could have scored more.

"The second half disappointed me in some ways. I expected us to go on the attack and get more goals but we were disappointing in the second half.

"But there were plusses. Scott (Carson) kept a clean sheet, Joleon and Sol were formidable and Frank, on his return to the team, was man of the match and rightly so."




see also
Gerrard urges England to be ready
17 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Austria 0-1 England
16 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Austria v England as it happened
16 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Austria v England photos
16 Nov 07 |  Football
England 'took rivals too lightly'
16 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Micah Richards column
13 Nov 07 |  Football
McClaren critics anger Barnwell
15 Nov 07 |  Internationals
England failure 'would be good'
15 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Gerrard comes to McClaren defence
12 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Benayoun out of key Russia clash
11 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Euro 2008 tables
22 Aug 07 |  Internationals
I will not quit, insists McClaren
10 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Gullit backs Beckham for England
09 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Beckham returns to England squad
09 Nov 07 |  Internationals
Pick your England XI
31 Aug 07 |  Internationals
FA boss gives backing to McClaren
18 Oct 07 |  Internationals
McClaren should stay - Venables
30 Oct 07 |  Internationals
McClaren criticised over Beckham
05 Nov 07 |  Football
England lack spirit - Beckenbauer
30 Oct 07 |  Internationals
Russia 2-1 England
17 Oct 07 |  Internationals


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