Owen can still be a world-beater at Manchester United, insists Giggs
28 July 2009 02:21
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A World Cup summer is always the hardest kind for Ryan Giggs. The weeks are spent mooching around at home while his native Wales are once again absent from the greatest football show on earth.
For England, though, Manchester United's most decorated player has predicted a tournament of promise, with clubmates Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen at the forefront.
A few weeks ago, it seemed unlikely that Owen would even be in Fabio Capello's party for South Africa next summer. The end of the 29-year-old's contract at Newcastle had not exactly prompted a stampede to his door.
But after four goals in two-and-a-half hours of football on United's pre-season tour of Asia, opinions are already being revised, and Giggs believes Owen will be back in the England squad before long.
After seeing Owen score twice against Hangzhou Greentown on Sunday, Giggs said: 'Michael is just proving what we all know - that he is a great goalscorer.
'I'm sure if he is playing and scoring for United then the rest (England selection) will come. He has obviously already played with Wayne at international level and I'm sure that will happen again. That is good news for England.'
Owen has been stuck on 40 goals for his country since earning the last of his 89 international caps against France in March 2008.
England manager Capello has appeared immune to the former Liverpool striker's appeal, and Owen remains nine goals short of Sir Bobby Charlton's England record of 49 goals.
Giggs added: 'Sir Bobby's record has proved a difficult record for anyone to overhaul - it's stood for a long time. But, looking at Michael's ratio of goals and games for England, you would have to say if he plays, say, another 15 internationals he will probably overtake it.
'He's a goal poacher who scores all types of goals - headers, tap-ins, and he scored a great volley here. They have all come from inside the box. That is where he does his work, that's where he comes alive.'
United have scored goals freely on their tour of Asia - 16 in all - and look in pretty good shape ahead of two games in Munich's Audi Cup this week and a friendly at home to Valencia next Wednesday.
The Barclays Premier League champions do, however, still look a centre forward light, with Rooney, Owen and Dimitar Berbatov set to carry the load while youngsters Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck will be offering inexperienced support.
Giggs disputes the suggestion United have not compensated adequately for the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, though, and instead points to the recruitment of a natural goalscorer.
'Michael is a predator in the box and that is something we haven't had since Ruud van Nistelrooy left,' Giggs said. 'Before that we had Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
'With Cristiano and Carlos going, hopefully we will score enough goals, and I'm sure, with the players we've got, we will.
'Our chances-to-goals conversion ratio was not so good last season but Michael should improve that.
'The good thing I've seen about Michael over the years is that if he misses a chance it doesn't bother him one bit. Some players will go into their shell if they miss a chance, but it doesn't bother Michael because he knows he is going to get another chance. Ruud had that same mentality.
'It's the mentality that great goalscorers have - they know they are going to get chances so if they miss one they know they will get another.
'He said himself that it was a surprise when United came in for him after the last couple of seasons at Newcastle and the troubles they have had.
'Coming here has given him a new lease of life, especially as we are a team who make a lot of chances. He'll be confident of putting them away.
'As regards the squad, we've lost Cristiano and Carlos but we have young players coming through. We've signed Michael and Antonio Valencia so the squad is really strong.'