Michael Owen still hopes he has a part to play in Manchester United’s final three fixtures of the season.
Sir Alex Ferguson has been unable to call on Owen since early in November, but the former Liverpool man is now back in training and is hoping to be able to make a contribution to the Old Trafford club’s title run in.
The 32-year-old admitted it is unlikely that he will be starting any games for the Red Devils this season, but retains a hope that he could make a decisive contribution at some point coming off of the substitutes bench.
“I can't imagine myself getting back and starting in the eleven,” the striker told the official Manchester United website.
“My mindset has got to be get myself ready mentally, physically and everything else because I might be needed for 10 or 20 minutes at a late stage of the season. Who knows? It could be the last game of the season at Sunderland.
“But I think the immediate thing is to get myself mentally ready, just in case the manager says: 'I'll put you on the bench' or whatever and I'll come on for 15 minutes and try to nick a goal if we're struggling.”
Scoring late from the bench would not be an unheralded occurrence for Owen, who famously scored a 96th minute winner in a Manchester derby in 2009 at Old Trafford.
It was a memorable moment for the former Newcastle striker, but he was unable to build on this in his United career and has continued to suffer from a range of injury problems.
Fitness has been an issue for much of the latter part of Owen’s career, but now he his fit he may believe a repeat of his derby late show is possible when the two sides meet for what has been billed as a title decider on Monday.