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Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Sunday, 5 October 2008 20:01 UK

Owen fails to make England squad

Michael Owen
Owen endured a disappointing afternoon against Everton on Sunday

England manager Fabio Capello has left Michael Owen out of his 23-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Owen, 28, was not included in the squad for September's wins over Andorra and Croatia following injury and illness.

But the striker has played in all of Newcastle's six games since then and has scored five goals this season.

Joe Cole is out with a foot injury but Steven Gerrard returns and Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips earn recalls.

Jimmy Bullard and David Bentley make way for Gerrard and Wright-Phillips, who have been in fine form for Liverpool and Manchester City respectively.

"It is just reward for an outstanding start Shaun has made to the resumption of his City career," said Manchester City manager Mark Hughes.

"He's a great guy who works extremely hard for his team-mates and his work ethic is without question. Mr Capello has recognized those qualities and that's why he is back in."

Scott Carson replaces the injured Paul Robinson as Capello's third-choice goalkeeper, while David Beckham retains his place and Wayne Rooney has proved his fitness after an ankle injury.

Theo Walcott and Emile Heskey, both of whom impressed against Andorra and Croatia, also held onto their spots.

With two victories from their opening two Group Six matches, England play Kazakhstan at 1715 BST on Saturday 11 October in front of what is expected to be a record international crowd at the new Wembley.

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Capello's men then face Belarus in Minsk on Wednesday 15 October at 1930 BST.

Owen's omission will raise questions about his international future under the Italian manager.

The striker's only appearance during Capello's reign came as a substitute in the 1-0 defeat by France in March.

Despite Owen's record of 40 goals in 89 international appearances, Capello suggested on Saturday that he was looking for more than just goals.

"Is he in good form now?" said Capello, whose assistant Franco Baldini was at Goodison Park on Sunday to assess Owen against Everton. "He's scoring but it's not enough to score goals.

"Sometimes I see games where a player has not played for 89 minutes and then scores a goal. It's not enough. Goals are very important but not only goals.

"I have to decide on 23 players. I do not decide out of sympathy or because I like or dislike players. I decide on who I think is the best player at the moment."

Ashley Young had been tipped to make the squad but Capello watched the Aston Villa winger at Chelsea on Sunday and he was not included.

Rooney produced an impressive display at Blackburn on Saturday, scoring the second goal in Manchester United's 2-0 win.

Wayne Rooney
Rooney came through Manchester United's win at Blackburn unscathed

The forward picked up his knock in Tuesday's Champions League win at Aalborg but was able to play 77 minutes against Rovers on Saturday before being substituted.

"That was his (Rooney's) best performance of the season for us," said United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Rooney said of his ankle: "It's been a bit weak for a couple of weeks and I've not trained as much as I'd like but I just need to be careful."

It is only six weeks since Capello's side were booed off after the 2-2 friendly draw with the Czech Republic at Wembley and they laboured to a 2-0 World Cup win against Andorra in September.

But the 4-1 win in Croatia, inspired by Walcott's hat-trick, has seen the fans flock back for the game against Kazakhstan.

The match is a sell-out, with 90,000 fans expected at Wembley for England's last home game of the year.

"We now have six points and we have to play every game like a final," said Capello. "Against Kazakhstan and against Belarus - you must focus every game.

"This is my philosophy, my vision of football. It is important to win but you have to focus for the next game, not on what we did (against Croatia)."

England play a friendly against Germany in Berlin on 19 November, but they do not then have another game scheduled until the end of March.


England squad: James (Portsmouth), Green (West Ham), Carson (West Brom); Brown (Manchester United), Johnson (Portsmouth), Terry (Chelsea), Ferdinand (Manchester United), Lescott (Everton), Upson (West Ham), A Cole (Chelsea), Bridge (Chelsea); Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Walcott (Arsenal), Barry (Aston Villa), Jenas (Tottenham), Lampard (Chelsea), Gerrard (Liverpool), Downing (Middlesbrough), Wright-Phillips (Manchester City); Heskey (Wigan), Crouch (Portsmouth), Rooney (Manchester United), Defoe (Portsmouth).




see also
Blackburn 0-2 Man Utd
04 Oct 08 |  Premier League
England handed Rooney injury lift
03 Oct 08 |  Internationals
Croatia 1-4 England
10 Sep 08 |  Internationals
Andorra 0-2 England
06 Sep 08 |  Internationals
England 2-2 Czech Rep
18 Aug 08 |  Internationals


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