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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr, 15, 2006

Hargreaves confident of landing World Cup place

Owen Hargreaves is confident he will be in Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad for this summer's World Cup finals after making a successful return from a nagging groin injury.

The Bayern Munich midfielder was forced to undergo surgery in early February when other treatments had failed to solve the problem.

And the decision proved to be a good one for the 25-year-old, who has been an integral part in Munich's star-studded midfield ever since his comeback on March 19.

He has played the full 90 minutes in all five matches and also scored the first and set up the second goal in Munich's 3-0 DFB-Pokal victory over third division St Pauli in midweek.

And Hargreaves is confident his good performances will not go unnoticed in England.

'Eriksson has always treated me very well,' he said. 'When I am healthy he has always picked me to play. I missed a lot of games this year and it has been difficult but I played five 90 minutes in a row and I am feeling better every game. I am sure he is keeping an eye on me.'

Hargreaves acknowledges picking 23 players will not be an easy task for the England boss.

'We have a great team,' he said. 'We have a lot of opportunities, possibilities and players. Obviously I feel I can help the team to be successful but it is up to Eriksson to decide what he thinks is best.'

Asked whether his experience - Hargreaves has earned 29 international caps to go alongside one Champions League title, two German Cups and three Bundesliga titles - could play to his advantage, he responded: 'I definitely think so.

'Experience is important. I have been lucky in my 25 years to play in some big games. And I like to think I played better in the big games.

'I have a lot of experience for a player of my age already so I know what it is like and that is why I think as you get older you develop as a player on the pitch and off the pitch.'

Hargreaves also admitted the decision to undergo surgery just four months before the World Cup 'basically made itself'.

'I could not compete any more,' he said. 'I was at 30 or 40% and it was really disappointing to have to play like that. I knew something was wrong and I am glad I found the reason why.

'Now I am physically able to do the things I like on the field. It is just nice to move like that again. I feel better and better.'

Hargreaves also believes 'the best English team' he has ever played in has a good chance of lifting the trophy this summer.

'It (winning the World Cup) is a possibility,' said Hargreaves. 'The potential is there and hopefully we can keep everyone healthy. A lot of things come into play. We'll see. Hopefully we will play a great World Cup and possibly win it.'

In terms of ability, Hargreaves reckons England are second only to Brazil.

He explained: 'I don't think anybody is up there with Brazil but I think we're second. We're a close second and I think Brazil are the yardstick for all teams.'

Yet Hargreaves feels a lot will depend on the shape of Wayne Rooney.

'I think Wayne Rooney is the X-factor. If he is at the top of his game, I don't think there is anyone who can stop him,' he concluded.

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