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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 5, 2008

Swiss skipper Senderos keeping eye on Owen

Switzerland captain Philippe Senderos is relishing the challenge of keeping Michael Owen quiet for a third time at Wembley on Wednesday night.

Arsenal defender Senderos kept Owen and the rest of his Newcastle team-mates at bay when the sides met twice in the space of four days in the FA Cup and the Premier League

The 23-year-old centre-back is set to lead his country out at the famous stadium for the first match of the Fabio Capello era.

Senderos maintains Switzerland - who will jointly host the finals with Austria - have 'nothing to lose' on Wednesday night, while some of the biggest names in the Premier League put their reputations on the line.

Newcastle striker Owen has seen his impact limited by injury this season, and failed to find the net in either of the FA Cup tie or following league game against the Gunners last month.

However, the 28-year-old was back in the groove with a goal in the 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough on Sunday - and along with Manchester United frontman Wayne Rooney is set to give Senderos and the rest of the Swiss defence plenty to think about at Wembley.

'Michael Owen is always a very dangerous player - you have to keep an eye on him because he can make the difference at any time. You have to keep your focus for the whole game,' said Senderos.

'The whole team worked really hard against Newcastle. We kept them quiet and controlled the game.

'Hopefully on Wednesday we can keep the ball and keep England quiet.'

Senderos - who visited the new national stadium as a spectator for the controversial NFL gridiron match there last year - added: 'The mood in our camp is very good and we are all up for it.

'England are a big country for football, but we are going to try our best.

'When you come to a place like Wembley, you feel you have nothing to lose, you can just play your game.

'England will be at home in front of their home crowd and I guess as they did not qualify, they have something to prove.

'We are going to put England under pressure and look to cause them problems.

'We only have four or five games to prepare for the Euros, so we are taking every game seriously.

'And personally for me, it does not get any better than this - to play at Wembley and captain your country.'

Switzerland head coach Kobi Kuhn admits this summer's European Championships in their homeland will just not be the same without England - the 'mother country of football'.

Having spent the past five years at Arsenal following his arrival as a raw teenager from Servette, Senderos knows how much it will also hurt the passionate supporters of the Three Lions.

'It is a shame, because a country like England and with the players they have got, they should be taking part in the tournament,' said Senderos.

Senderos has now recovered from a shoulder problem originally suffered at the World Cup.

The young defender has certainly made the most of a chance to figure in Arsene Wenger's Arsenal team with regular centre-back Kolo Toure at the African Nations Cup, as the Gunners moved clear at the top of the Premier League.

He said: 'At Arsenal, we are having a good season and for me personally, it is great to be getting a run in the team, and the results are coming as well.

'Every time I come into a game, I always try to give my best and try to keep in the team.

'Hopefully I will give good problems to the manager. I always try to fight for my place.'

Senderos will not be the only English-based player in the Swiss side on Wednesday, as Manchester City's Gelson Fernandes is set to feature in midfield.

The 21-year-old revealed he has enjoyed some banter with Eastlands team-mate and England defender Micah Richards ahead of the game.

'It will be a little bit strange to play against him because we are always together at training and on the pitch, but we are happy to play against each other,' said Fernandes, born in the Cape Verde Islands.

'Micah has a great future. He is quick, is so strong. I don't know where he feels better, but for me he is better at centre-back.'

Fernandes added: 'I sent him a message yesterday, I can't say what I said it was just something between me and him. I might text him good luck tonight.'