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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Owen told to sit out testimonial
Michael Owen
Owen broke a bone in his foot on 31 December
England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has told striker Michael Owen not to take part in Alan Shearer's testimonial match at St James' Park on Thursday.

The Newcastle striker, 26, had been set to play against Celtic to improve his match fitness after a four-month lay-off with a fractured metatarsal.

"I have told Michael he cannot play on Thursday," confirmed Eriksson.

"It would be the worst thing in the world if he was to break down in a testimonial game."

Newcastle caretaker boss Glenn Roeder left Owen out of the team that faced Chelsea on Sunday, despite the striker being in the initial squad.

Owen had complained of pain in his damaged foot on his return to action against Birmingham on 29 April.

I don't know how match fit he will be
Eriksson on Owen

The forward is now set to make his comeback for England's B team in their match with Belarus at Reading on 25 May.

He is also pencilled in to take part in England's Old Trafford friendlies against Hungary on 30 May and Jamaica on 3 June before the 23-man party head for Germany on 4 June.

"Michael could have played on Sunday," added Eriksson.

"I have no doubt he will be fit by the time the World Cup comes around but I don't know how match fit he will be."

The Swede conceded that Owen may not just have physical problems to overcome.

"It might be psychological," said Eriksson.

"Knowing Michael Owen, he will be thinking about the World Cup and wanting to take part in it."

Eriksson, who will make way for current Middlesbrough boss and member of the England coaching set-up Steve McClaren following England's World Cup campaign, insisted that he never contemplated leaving Owen out of his squad.

"We are talking about Michael Owen weeks before the World Cup finals," he stated.

"Not picking him now means not putting him on the Fifa list next Monday. That would be crazy.

"I have until 9 June to make changes if I have any problems and want to change things so I have put Michael on the list and that is it."

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