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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Sep 9, 2007

Owen confident of return to top form

Michael Owen is confident he can be 'as good as ever' after demonstrating the goal threat which can help England qualify for the Euro 2008 finals. Owen scored his 37th goal for his country with a superb turn and half volley from 20 yards out in Saturday's 3-0 win over Israel in a qualifier at Wembley. The relief was there for all to see as Owen was mobbed by his team-mates as months of injury frustration after his knee setback during last summer's World Cup evaporated. He also spurned two easier chances but his return to sharpness and show of predatory instincts inside opponents' penalty areas was something England have been lacking. Now England will look for something similar from the Newcastle striker in Wednesday's home meeting with Russia when chances are likely to at a premium. Owen said: 'In terms of picking up injuries, I'm no different to anyone else. Getting injured is part and parcel of football. I've been the luckiest man in the world in my career so far. 'I've played 80 odd times for England at 27. I was probably due a bad one at some point but I'd like to think I've come back just as good as before what was a career-threatening injury. 'It is great to be back in the team and scoring again. It makes all the hard work worthwhile. 'But it is not about me. It is about everyone. I think everyone knows what I am about and I've played many times for England and scored many goals. 'The most important thing is qualifying for Euro 2008.' Owen gives the impression of being tired of being questioned about his injury which occurred in the first minute of the group clash with Sweden in Germany 15 months ago. But he insisted: 'I feel fine. I've played plenty of games already this season. I will play better at times, I will play worse - but at least I'm in a position now to have the option of playing well.' Owen is the first to acknowledge the contribution of the recalled Emile Heskey who caused all kinds of problems to the Israeli defence on his first England performance since Euro 2004. Heskey has always worked effectively in tandem with Owen who has now scored 12 goals in 13 starts for his country alongside the Wigan player. Owen said: 'We know each other like the back of your hand. We weren't worried about whether we would click going into the game. You know what you are going to get from Emile. 'He can be a real weapon in certain games and played really well. The crowd told you that. We know each other's game inside out. He got a great ovation. I am really pleased for him. 'There is strong competition for places but he has played well for England before. I don't think anyone is surprised in the least with his contribution. 'I have played with him for many a year and in some of those games when at Liverpool, he could be unplayable when he was playing well. 'You know what you are going to get. He gives you a different option. When you are struggling, you can dink the ball up to him and he is so big and strong that he can hold people off.'

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