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Liverpool v Manchester United: Sir Alex Ferguson backs Michael Owen to make mark
Published : 24 Oct 2009 13:44:17
Owen will be centre of attention on Sunday as he makes his first return to Liverpool - the club which nurtured him and for whom he scored 158 goals - as a player for their fiercest rivals. Manchester United's signing of the one-time Anfield hero raised some eyebrows in the summer but the 29 year-old repaid some of Ferguson's faith with a dramatic derby winner against Manchester City last month. Now United will be hoping he can repeat the trick in a Premier League game which Liverpool, after four successive defeats in all competitions, can ill afford to lose. "That will never be forgotten," Ferguson said. "I don't know if it puts him in the history books but it will certainly never be forgotten. "He is only just starting with us. He has only been here a few months and I hope the boy is here for a long time. "I think he is well capable of doing that. He is showing he is a terrific professional, he lives his life the right way and there are no complications with him." Owen has largely been restricted to substitute's duties since moving to Old Trafford and got another 20 minutes in Wednesday's Champions League win at CSKA Moscow. But with Wayne Rooney still a doubt for Sunday due to a calf injury, he could be in line for a start despite the likelihood of a hostile reception. Ferguson added: "When he came on on Wednesday I think he did very well, his movement troubles opponents. "There is nobody better at holding the line in the last third than him, he is very seldom offside. That is experience, of course, but also talent." After an injury-ravaged spell at Newcastle, the opportunity for Owen to join United came as a surprise. With an England World Cup place to aim for, Owen is hoping the move can resurrect his international career. His injury record is a factor Ferguson had to take into consideration and the player can perhaps be grateful to a former Newcastle team-mate and ex-United star for helping secure the move. "Michael is capable of scoring in any type of match at the highest level," Ferguson said. "He has proved that, we knew that. "Looking at his CV, I think any club in the world would have taken him. The issue was his playing record over the last two or three years and that obviously put some clubs off. "But I spoke to one or two people about him - Nicky Butt was almost forcing me to sign him, he had so much good to say about the lad. "I think it was good advice and I took that on board." Rooney's fitness will be assessed at training on Saturday, his 24th birthday. The former Everton star was injured during England's World Cup qualifier in Ukraine a fortnight ago. Darren Fletcher is another doubt for the game but Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra return after suffering knocks against Bolton last week. Victory for United would extend their advantage over Liverpool in the table to 10 points.