Capello throws down gauntlet to Owen

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England manager Fabio Capello insists Manchester United striker Michael Owen needs to follow up last week's Champions League hat-trick with regular football to secure a place at the World Cup.

Owen's treble against Wolfsburg led to suggestions he could force his way onto the plane to South Africa next year but he has only made substitute appearances against Aston Villa and Wolves since.

"I saw the last game he played, on television, and he scored three goals in the Champions League but the next game he did not play. For this reason, I ask myself why? Why (Wayne) Rooney plays always and Owen not? He is one of the important England players," Capello told BBC Radio Five Live.

Owen has been in provisional squads recently and where he ranks come the end of the season will depend on injuries to other players.

At the moment Capello has 30 players in mind to compete for the 23 available places in the final World Cup squad.

"The players I choose will be fit and will play a lot of games," said Capello.

"In my mind I have 30 players because, I hope not, but if someone is not fit or injured, I have to decide the 23 players at the last moment.

"I follow all the players and check every moment what happens and when we decide, the players that will come with me to South Africa will be fit.

"I am checking the general situation in every game, if they improve or don't improve, or some young players who play one or two games.

"(James) Milner at the moment has changed position, from the wing and now (is playing) like a (central) midfielder. (Wes) Brown played right-back last season and this year he has been centre-back."

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Michael Owen
Premier League
Manchester United

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