Michael Owen's World Cup dream appears to be over due to the fact the Manchester United striker has found it hard to pin down a starting spot at Old Trafford.

After being overlooked since the friendly defeat in France over 18 months ago, it was expected Owen would eventually force his way into Fabio Capello's England squad after he completed a surprise summer move to United, but Capello does not feel him being on the bench against Chelsea it is enough to warrant his inclusion.

And, after leaving him out of his squad for Saturday's friendly with Brazil in Qatar, it is difficult to envisage that stance changing.

If Owen is despondent, Darren Bent will join up on Tuesday with a clear sense of focus.

Bent has fallen behind Carlton Cole in the battle to be back-up to Emile Heskey as England's main striking target man and not even some fine early-season form for his new club Sunderland, and a ringing endorsement from manager Steve Bruce, had been enough to get him back in - until now.

With Heskey and Cole both ruled out of what will be England's 31st meeting with the most glamorous team in the planet, after which there will be just one game - next March - before Capello must name his provisional squad, Bent has been handed his chance.

Whether the 25-year-old edges ahead of Peter Crouch, who has a remarkable record of 16 goals in 17 starts for his country, is open to question.

However, Capello will probably want to see Bent in action at some stage and the former Tottenham star, who left White Hart Lane is acrimonious circumstances this summer, must not waste the opportunity.

When picking a side to face the five-times world champions, Capello's hardest choice would appear to be at left-back.

Even though he completed the full 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge, Ashley Cole has not been selected, triggering the call-up of Aston Villa's Stephen Warnock. Normally, Wayne Bridge would be the automatic stand-in for Cole but the Manchester City defender produced a woeful performance against Burnley on Sunday.

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Topics:
#Tottenham Hotspur
#Sunderland
#Carlton Cole
#Ashley Cole
#Manchester City
#Wayne Bridge
#Emile Heskey
#Chelsea
#Michael Owen
#Premier League
#Steve Bruce
#Peter Crouch
#Manchester United
#Stephen Warnock
#Aston Villa
#Darren Bent
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