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Heskey: I'd welcome Owen reunion
Published : 09 Jun 2009 08:07:12Rss feed
Just as Heskey spent three years on the sidelines after being ditched by former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, so Owen has been consigned to the history books by Fabio Capello. In fairness to the Italian, Owen's fitness and form both leave something to be desired and mean he had no chance of being involved in the current World Cup double-header as England look to complete seven straight wins by beating Andorra at Wembley on Wednesday. Currently out of contract after failing to halt Newcastle's disastrous slide into the Championship, Owen is attracting interest from Heskey's present club, Aston Villa. And the former Leicester and Liverpool man is convinced if Owen can seal the right move, he will get the chance to add to his tally of 40 international goals, the fourth highest in England history. "I do fear for Michael because he is not playing, which is the same situation I was in," said Heskey. "But he's a great player who can re-establish himself again. If he joins a club, does well, he can come back. "The manager has shown if you're doing well for your club, you can get in." Villa manager Martin O'Neill knows he would have to make Owen the highest-paid player in Villa history if he was to lure him to the Midlands. Many fans would no doubt question the decision given the 29-year-old's career seems to have been on a downward spiral virtually from the moment he arrived at St James' Park. However, Heskey knows how well the pair have performed together in the past. The striker got his name on the scoresheet when Owen got a hat-trick in the 5-1 hammering of Germany in Munich eight years ago and supposedly Heskey had his old friend to thank for persuading Steve McClaren to end his three-year international exile in 2007. "I am not sure whether Michael got me back into the squad but I would welcome the opportunity to play with him again. "He is a great player and a great asset to have. He has shown that on many occasions." Heskey, meanwhile, admits Eriksson could have handled his England ditching a bit better five years ago, although the same attitude which got him through the dark days will ensure he does not get carried away by thoughts of World Cup glory now. Without so much as a brief phone call, or even a text, Eriksson jettisoned Heskey in the wake of a Euro 2004 defeat to France, casting adrift a player no-one could seem to get the best from. The 31-year-old spent more than three years in the wilderness before he was recalled by McClaren. And, while injury ensured Heskey could not salvage McClaren's hapless tenure, Capello is now getting the benefit as England march proudly towards South Africa 2010. The Aston Villa star does not appear to be the type to spend days and weeks agonising about his treatment by anyone, but he admits to being slightly perplexed by Eriksson's behaviour. "It was a bit of a strange one," he said. "It was never explained and you are going to feel harshly treated if the manager doesn't say why you're not playing or why you're not in the squad. "Maybe it could have been dealt with a bit better but if the manager doesn't have time to talk to you, that is it. I just carried on with my game." Indeed, Heskey refuses to condemn Eriksson for apparently blaming him alone for the defeat by France in Portugal which cost England their chance of tournament glory. "Someone's got to take the blame," shrugged Heskey, who subsequently missed out on the 2006 World Cup. "People say it could have been someone else, others say it should have been. The fact is it was me."