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Gleeson: The rise of Cape Verde

Football Africa
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By ESPN Staff

Owen relieved as medical staff give the all-clear

Newcastle striker Michael Owen is confident he will be fit for the World Cup finals despite a scare on his return from injury.

The 26-year-old admitted after his comeback as a substitute at Birmingham on Saturday that he had felt discomfort in the metatarsal he fractured in December, and was rushed to see his specialist yesterday morning.

However, after receiving assurances from the medics and speaking to fellow victims, he is hopeful of playing some part in Sunday's final Premiership game against Chelsea.

'That's a big relief,' he told the Times. 'I have heard from other players who have had the same injury and they have told me it is totally normal to feel this pain when you first come back.

'Provided it subsides over the next few days, I would hope to be involved against Chelsea on Sunday.

'There is no reason to think I should have any problems being right for the World Cup.'

That will come as a huge relief to England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson, who was left sweating on Wayne Rooney's fitness when he suffered a similar injury in Manchester United's 3-0 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday.

Owen had not played since breaking the bone in a collision with Tottenham keeper and international team-mate Paul Robinson at White Hart Lane on December 31.

He underwent surgery to pin the toe, but needed a second operation to insert a longer screw.

Owen feared the worst as he left the pitch at St Andrews, but X-rays showed no lasting damage with both the pin and bone undisturbed.

The game at Birmingham was just his 11th of the season for the Magpies, the club he joined in a £17million move from Real Madrid in August, a run which has brought him seven goals.