Michael Owen does not expect to be fit for England's Euro 2008 double-header next month.
The 27-year-old has undergone apparently successful surgery in Germany for a stomach problem which could have caused a hernia and is recovering from a torn adductor muscle in his groin./news/story?id=468251&cc=
Initial predictions of a six-week lay-off appear to have been overly pessimistic and the striker's Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce even suggested yesterday that he could be back for next weekend's clash with Everton.
But Owen is maintaining a more cautious stance and insists he is still preparing to miss out on the clashes with Estonia, on October 13, and Russia four days later.
'I don't want to tempt fate by making a premature forecast,' he said in the News of The World.
'Medical advice will decide how quickly I will be back in action. I'd rather remain cautious at this stage than set any unrealistic targets.
'But in the back of my mind, before I had the surgery, I had focused on Newcastle's October 22 Premier League game against Tottenham - the first after the international break - for a possible return.
'Anything before that, including England's two Euro qualifiers against Estonia and Russia, would be a bonus.'
Owen added: 'I shall cling to the hope I can play for England but people must accept that Newcastle have to come first at the moment.
'They pay my wages and I have missed far too many games since joining them to put them at the back of the queue as far as priorities go.
'I know it is going to be the subject of national debate as to whether I will be fit to help England qualify for next year's European Championship finals but let's adopt a little bit of caution and see how the next 10 days unfold.'