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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Owen has England future - Lampard

England door not closed for Owen - Lampard

England midfielder Frank Lampard says manager Fabio Capello has not shut the door on Newcastle striker Michael Owen.

Owen is yet to play under Capello and was recently referred to as England's "history" by the Italian.

But Lampard says the 29-year-old, who has scored 40 goals in 89 England caps, should not give up hope of a recall.

"Michael Owen is one of the best strikers ever to play for England and I am sure if he is fit and playing well, he will be in the team," said Lampard.

"His goalscoring record is unbelievable, but he has been injured for a long time and Fabio does not feel he is ready to play," added the Chelsea man.

As soon as you hear the name Shevchenko, you know he is going to be a threat
Frank Lampard

Lampard insisted there is nothing personal between Owen and Capello and that his exclusion is just down to fitness and form.

"Capello has shown he is a fair manager and has no personal agendas, he just wants to win games," said Lampard.

"The situation would be the same if I was injured or if Wayne Rooney is injured. If you are fit and playing well you will be in."

Capello opted to call up Darren Bent after Carlton Cole was ruled out of the game against Ukraine on Wednesday because of a thigh injury.

Emile Heskey will also miss the World Cup qualifier after picking up a hamstring injury in the early stages of the friendly win over Slovakia at the weekend.

But Capello has ruled out bringing in Owen, who has only just returned to action for his club Newcastle after an ankle ligament problem.

Michael Owen scores for England

Owen scored a superb goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup

However, England coach Stuart Pearce also dismissed any suggestions that Owen no longer has a future with the national side under Capello.

"My view is the same as Fabio's, he hasn't played enough football," said the England Under-21 coach, who is also a member of Capello's backroom staff.

"If the manager leads from the top and says that's the reason behind Michael not playing, then that's the reason.

"The one thing Fabio doesn't do is shut the door on anyone. It has been mentioned that certain individuals have had the door closed on them, but that is not the case.

"They are not the words that Fabio uses and his actions are not like that either.

"Anyone that's on form and fit and playing for their club will get an opportunity and he has certainly shown that with the Under-21s where he has put the likes of Gabby (Gabriel Agbonlahor); Milly (James Milner); Theo (Walcott) and Aaron (Lennon), who played on Saturday, into the senior squad.

"It is very pleasing for me that these players have had an opportunity because their form has been good enough for their clubs."

Meanwhile, Lampard warned his England team-mates about the threat of former Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko ahead of the meeting with Ukraine at Wembley.

The England midfielder played with the Ukrainian forward at Stamford Bridge for two seasons and although Shevchenko's time at Chelsea was not deemed to be a great success, Lampard has no doubt the 32-year-old will be a threat.

Capello has given us our confidence back - Barry

"Shevchenko is obviously a fantastic player," he said.

"He will be a huge threat to us, because he can produce something out of the blue.

"I think he had a few injury problems and settling-in problems when he was in England.

"But as soon as you hear the name Shevchenko, you know he is going to be a threat - and this is a game he will really be wanting to do well in."

England will record their fifth successive Group Six qualifying victory if they beat Ukraine on Wednesday.

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