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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 April 2006, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Grip confident about Owen fitness
By Simon Austin

Michael Owen
Owen has scored 35 goals in 75 games
England assistant Tord Grip says he is not worried that Michael Owen might play only one competitive match before the World Cup squad is announced.

Owen is unlikely to be fit until Newcastle's final game of the season, against Chelsea on 7 May, and England's provisional squad is named a day later.

Grip told BBC Sport: "That is not a big worry, I must say. The worry is if he gets a reaction after his first game.

"He is a proven goalscorer and you always need that in a team."

Owen broke a bone in his foot playing for Newcastle against Spurs on 31 December and has not played since.

"It would have been ideal if he had played some games, but Michael's not worried," Grip said.

"He will be in full training, for perhaps two or three weeks, before his first game back and will play matches in training.

"Sven and our doctor have been in regular contact with Michael and with Newcastle's doctor.

"Michael was a little worried when he had to have surgery a couple of weeks ago (when a screw was inserted in his foot), but that was a minor one."

Beckham was still injured when he came with us in 2002... Michael will be fit when we get together
Tord Grip

Eriksson selected David Beckham for the 2002 World Cup when he was hampered by the same type of injury Owen now has.

The England skipper appeared short of fitness throughout the tournament and was criticised for pulling out of a tackle in the lead-up to Brazil's equaliser in their 2-1 quarter-final win over England.

But Grip insisted picking Owen would not be as big a risk as selecting Beckham in 2002 was.

"He (Beckham) was still injured when he came with us, so he wasn't fit then. Michael will be fit when we get together," he said.

And Grip said England's extra week of preparation before their first World Cup match on 10 June could be crucial for Owen.

The final Premiership games take place on 7 May. The FA Cup final, which Newcastle will not be involved in, is on 13 May and England do not play their first World Cup match until 10 June, when they face Paraguay.

"It's much better than it was in Japan. Then we only had three weeks preparation time in total.

"Now Michael can keep training after Newcastle's last match.

"Then we have a couple of matches (against Hungary on 30 May and Jamaica on 3 June) for him to get more match fitness."

Owen has admitted he is highly unlikely to play more than one match before England's provisional squad is named.

He said: "Whether it is one game or maybe two games - I would be a miracle worker if it was any more than that. I am pounding the treadmill with that in mind.

When he has recovered from injuries before he has come straight back into the team and scored goals straight away
David Beckham on Michael Owen

"I would love to show my face in at least one game, then look forward to next season.

"I am confident I can play in the England friendlies against Jamaica and Hungary - as long as I do not have any more setbacks or muscular problems."

Meanwhile, Beckham is optimistic that England vice-captain Owen will be fit for the World Cup finals.

"I have heard Michael say he will be on that plane and that he will be fit and, fingers crossed, he will," Beckham said.

"He is young, quick and athletic and when he has recovered from injuries before he has come straight back into the team and scored goals straight away."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Interview: Michael Owen



SEE ALSO
Is Owen the new Beckham?
04 Apr 06 |  Internationals
Owen dismisses World Cup worries
27 Mar 06 |  Football
Owen dismisses Gerrard Reds plea
15 Mar 06 |  Newcastle United
Eriksson could take Owen gamble
15 Mar 06 |  Internationals
Owen has operation on broken foot
03 Jan 06 |  Newcastle United


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