Newcastle skipper Michael Owen has ignored the ongoing debate over his England future to take full advantage of the international break.
National coach Fabio Capello once again decided he did not need the 29-year-old's services for the friendly clash with Slovakia and the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine despite mounting injury problems.
However, that has given Owen time to work on his fitness following a six-week lay-off with ankle ligament damage, and caretaker boss Chris Hughton said: "Michael has benefited from the two-week break, and it's been a real bonus for us that he's been able to work with us at the training ground."
He added: "And what helps during the international break is that the group is a little bit smaller and you are able to concentrate a little bit more on each player.
"Michael is focused on getting on with the job in hand. He is just back from six weeks out through injury, and Michael will want to get back to his full fitness levels.
"He has been concentrating on doing the best he can because it's the tough end of the season now and it's all about what part he can play."
Owen suffered his injury in the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on January 28, and missed five crucial games as Newcastle slid alarmingly down the table.
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