Fabio Capello can't understand why Michael Owen can't get more regular football at Manchester United, but insists the striker must play consistently if he is to be considered for England's World Cup squad.
England boss Capello is perhaps leaning on Sir Alex Ferguson to give Owen more involvement so the Italian has as many options available as possible when it comes time to narrow down his 30-man shortlist to 23 for South Africa. Capello said Owen's Champions League hat-trick at Wolfsburg showed his "importance" to England, but wants to see more.
Owen's treble against Wolfsburg led to suggestions he could force his way onto the plane to South Africa next year but he has only made substitute appearances against Aston Villa and Wolves since.
Capello, speaking at the unveiling of The Hive, Barnet's new training facilities, said: "I saw the last game he played, on television, and he scored three goals in the Champions League but the next game he did not play. For this reason, I ask myself why? Why (Wayne) Rooney plays always and Owen not? He is one of the important England players.''
Owen has been in provisional squads recently and where he ranks come the end of the season will depend on injuries to other players. Capello will only select players who are match-ready, and said he is consuming a lot of football to make sure he has Plan B ready in case his ideal selections become unavailable.
"The players I choose will be fit and will play a lot of games,'' Capello told BBC Radio Five Live. "In my mind I have 30 players because, I hope not, but if someone is not fit or injured, I have to decide the 23 players at the last moment. I follow all the players and check every moment what happens and when we decide, the players that will come with me to South Africa will be fit.
"I am checking the general situation in every game, if they improve or don't improve, or some young players who play one or two games. (James) Milner at the moment has changed position, from the wing and now (is playing) like a (central) midfielder. (Wes) Brown played right-back last season and this year he has been centre-back.''
England will be staying in Rustenburg, after Capello's fears over the state of the training pitches were eased.
"The facilities are okay, there were some problems with the pitches but I spoke to people there and they will be okay for June when we are in South Africa,'' he said. "We found Rustenburg was the best place for us. It is quiet, good for security, is close to the stadium where we play the first game - everything is okay.''
Before that, Capello wants to play Egypt at Wembley on March 3, then arrange a friendly with Mexico.
He added: "We have to decide. We are speaking with these countries but have not decided yet. I think we will play March 3 at Wembley, against Egypt, then we have to find the date to play against Mexico.
"There are some problems, I don't know if we will play Sunday or Monday. All the friendly games we played were against European teams and we know the style of these teams. We have to play against South Americans and African teams with a different style.''