Owen out for rest of the season
MICHAEL OWEN'S dream of representing England in South Africa this summer appears over after he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson today confirmed the striker would miss the rest of the campaign after suffering the injury in the Carling Cup final victory over Aston Villa last Sunday.
Owen, who scored in the Wembley final, had admitted before the injury that he was a “long shot” to make Fabio Capello's World Cup squad. “It's a bad blow – he's out for the season,” Ferguson said.
“Unfortunately it's more serious than we thought. He will be operated on on Monday morning. “It's a terrible blow for the lad and is disappointing news for us too.
“He has never missed a training session all season. “I think the heavy pitch at Wembley on Sunday made some contribution to it but really it is just bad luck.”
Although Owen did not mention the World Cup, he is now looking forward to the start of next season. “Unfortunately the specialist says I will miss the end of the season,” said Owen.
“I have loved every minute of my first campaign with Manchester United and have already enjoyed some memorable moments.
“I am determined to come back at the start of next season in peak condition.” Ferguson, meanwhile, has expressed his anger that Wayne Rooney played almost the entire game for England against Egypt on Wednesday.
Ferguson left Rooney out of the starting line-up for Sunday's Carling Cup final because he was worried about the draining effects the Wembley pitch would have on his star man ahead of a busy club schedule, including next Wednesday's Champions League return with AC Milan at Old Trafford.
As Rooney picked up a minor knee injury at the weekend, Ferguson was unsure whether the 24-year-old would be available for England’s midweek friendly.
However, not only did Rooney play, he was only taken off in the final stages of England's 3-1 win and is now a doubt for United's encounter with Wolves at Molineux tomorrow, where victory would take them top of the table.
“We have to assess Wayne because he played almost 90 minutes for England the other night at Wembley, which I was disappointed in,” said Ferguson.
“When you are playing on that pitch for almost an hour on Sunday and then nearly a full game on Wednesday it's far too much.
“Now he is a doubt for Wolves.” There is better news regarding Owen Hargreaves, who is set to make his long-awaited comeback for United in a reserve team encounter on Thursday.
Hargreaves has been out of action since September 2008 with a series of knee problems.
The midfielder had operations on both knees under the guidance of renowned specialist Dr Richard Steadman but after returning to United's Carrington training complex in September had been expected to return to action within a couple of months.
Instead, a comeback has been repeatedly delayed, with suggestions in the last couple of weeks that Hargreaves was out for the season.
However, Ferguson revealed some optimistic news on Hargreaves, confirming an outing against Manchester City's second string at Altrincham's Moss Lane ground was now on the cards.
“Owen Hargreaves has shown for the first time that he is almost ready to play,” said Ferguson. “He has been training with the first team, which has been good to see and is pencilled in for a game with the reserves on Thursday.”