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7:45 PM UTC
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By ESPN Staff

Owen all-clear after scare over thigh injury

Michael Owen has given Sven-Goran Eriksson another World Cup injury scare but could still play in tonight's friendly against Hungary.

Owen underwent a precautionary scan after reporting he had a 'tight thigh' in training on Monday.

The results were all-clear and England's senior striker should be available to lead the line against the Hungarians at Old Trafford.

Owen's fitness is a huge relief for an England team still uncertain about Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney's participation in the World Cup finals.

Rooney's next scan on his broken foot has been brought forward seven days to June 7 at Eriksson's request.

The Swede wants an update on how the injury is mending before June 9 - the final deadline for him to replace injured players in his squad.

Eriksson remains upbeat about Rooney's chances of playing some part in the World Cup finals but an injury to Owen would be a devastating blow.

The Newcastle striker has only played 90 minutes of football since breaking his foot on New Year's Eve.

He came through 60 minutes of a B international against Belarus last week and was hoping to play a full 90 game against Hungary tomorrow or Jamaica on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd claims England officials took too long to put the Magpies in the picture.

Shepherd told his club's official website: 'I am disappointed that no-one within the England camp informed us immediately of the situation regarding Michael on Monday.

'To be the last to know, via the media, is certainly disappointing, especially after we have kept the England camp informed all the way about Michael's fitness since he first injured his foot and we have done all we can to get Michael fit to play a big part for England at the World Cup finals this summer.

'We've co-operated all the way along with England to help Michael, and that's why this is disappointing.

'We'll be making our feelings known and seeking an explanation from the England team management plus reassurances that this doesn't happen again.'

Eriksson said the team which starts at Old Trafford is likely to be the one which starts against Paraguay in the World Cup opener on June 10.

The England boss may play Owen as a lone striker, backed by five midfielders, which would represent a U-turn on his World Cup plans.

Eriksson said: 'When we start it will be the team we think might start against Paraguay. We could start with Crouch and Owen and we could start in another way as well.'

This is a drastic change from May 8, when Eriksson said: 'If I had to do it today I think I would start with Peter Crouch and Michael Owen if he is match-fit.

'That would be the natural choice and playing the four best midfielders.'

The last time Eriksson tampered with his 4-4-2 system was in the World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland in September.

England lost 1-0 in Belfast, playing David Beckham as a deep-lying central-midfielder, alongside Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard. Shaun Wright-Phillips and Rooney played either side of Owen in attack.

Rooney may not join his England team-mates when they depart for their World Cup base in southern Germany.

There seems little point in Rooney flying to Baden-Baden, next Monday, and then returning to Manchester for his scan one day later.

FIFA have told Eriksson it will not break any competition rules if his squad members fly in and out of the camp.

Eriksson said: 'It would be a pity if Wayne Rooney never kicks a ball in a World Cup but I think he will. The scan on the June 7 is important to see if it is getting better.

'It might give us some good indications. Hopefully it will. I will wait as long as possible. I would be very stupid if not.'

Rooney's broken metatarsal was scanned last Thursday but the results did not count him definitely in or out for Germany.

Manchester United decided to book him in for another scan on June 14 but Eriksson asked Sir Alex Ferguson to bring that forward.

The two managers met, along with the United and England team doctors and the specialist in charge of Rooney's injury.

Eriksson said: 'I'm not a doctor. I'm supposed to be a manager but you have a feeling sometimes. I think he will take part in the World Cup and nothing has changed.'

Jermain Defoe and Andrew Johnson are England's stand-by strikers.

Eriksson also denied reports he had agreed to join Real Madrid after the World Cup, when he steps down as England boss.

He said: 'That is not true at all. My future after the World Cup is nothing.'