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Capello: A Fit Owen Will Be Welcome Back
    2008-12-17 10:34:52     Shanghai Daily/Agencies

Michael Owen (front) of Newcastle United fights for the ball with John Obi Mikel of Chelsea during their English Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London November 22, 2008. [File photo: Xinhua/Reuters]

Fabio Capello says Michael Owen will have to stay fit and continue scoring to return to the England lineup while David Beckham won't be back unless he plays regularly for AC Milan.

The England coach, who is preparing for a friendly against Spain in February, has repeatedly overlooked Owen during 2010 World Cup qualifying even though the Newcastle striker has returned to goalscoring form for his club.

Capello missed his latest three goals in two games for the Magpies because he was on vacation in South Africa. But he told reporters that, if the striker maintains his form and fitness, he could return to the squad against the Spaniards and try and add to his 40 goals in 89 appearances.

"He's an important player with England," Capello said on Monday, a year after his appointment to revive the national team. "The most important thing is that he will be fit. The last three times he was not fit."

Calf muscle and groin injuries have restricted Owen to 15 appearances this season but he has managed to score nine times. "I just arrived this morning at 5 o'clock so I just read about it," Capello said of Owen's goal and performance in Newcastle's 3-0 victory at Portsmouth on Sunday.

"I know he played very well and scored a goal. The door for the national team is open for all the players."

Capello said that Beckham, who played as a late substitute in England's four World Cup qualifying victories, would not be chosen simply because he is one short of Bobby Moore's record 108 England appearances for an outfield player.

The Los Angeles Galaxy star is due to join AC Milan on loan later this week and start playing for the Italian team early in January. That will give him at least a month to get himself match fit for the February 11 friendly against European champion Spain.

"If he plays (for Milan) it will be possible," Capello said. "If he doesn't play he will not be in the squad. It is the same for all the players. It is nothing to do with sympathy."

With four victories in four qualifying matches, Capello has put the team almost halfway towards qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

"I am happy for the results and I am happy with what we did to create a group mentality and team spirit," the Italian said. "We have managed to recover the (players') confidence. This was the most important work that we did.

"Without that spirit in the group, the confidence will not be there and it is impossible to win. Sometimes you can win one game because one player has scored a goal. But without the spirit it is impossible."



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