Michael Owen believes England have given themselves the perfect platform from which to launch their bid for World Cup glory.
Fabio Capello unveiled his 30-man provisional squad earlier this week knowing preparations begin in earnest on Monday, when, minus Gareth Barry, England head to Irdning for the first of two altitude training camps.
After friendlies against Mexico and Japan it is all systems go for South Africa, and the tournament that will determine whether the undoubted improvement Capello has made to the Three Lions can be transformed into anything tangible.
There has been a hiccup - the furore over the ill-conceived 'Capello Index' - but, as he assessed England's prospects at the launch of the new Kitbag World Cup store, a special 7,000sq ft department dedicated to the greatest show on earth, which begins in Johannesburg on June 11, Owen explained that once the action starts, in temperatures more akin to a British late autumn, there will be no wriggle room.
'It will be a different World Cup in terms of atmosphere but everything else will be similar,' said Owen. 'At the top level these days, players will experience 20 or 30 different countries in their careers.
'I wouldn't say there will be any excuses. As long as we don't pick up too many more injuries, we go there excuse free.'
There have been some fitness problems for Capello, although, as with the case of Bobby Zamora, they mainly concern players on the fringes of Capello's squad.
Denied: Owen is happy with his debut season at ManchesterUnited, but injury has ruled him out of another World Cup appearance with England
Barry is the obvious exception, while Owen was denied the chance of a late season push towards what would have been his fourth World Cup by the hamstring injury he sustained during the Carling Cup final.
The 29-year-old expects to be fully fit in time for the start of Manchester United's pre-season tour of North America, which they embark on 24 hours after the World Cup final, on July 12.
'Everything went well with the operation and the aim is to be doing everything with the lads on the first day of pre-season training,' he said. 'It was a shame to get the injury at Wembley. I thought it was a minor thing at first but it was obviously worse than that.
'But overall I was delighted with my first season at United. I was fit for 43 of the first 44 games.'
Condemned to a role as observer, Owen can only hope someone in the England squad makes the same sensational impact as he did in 1998, with that amazing goal against Argentina, which launched him into the consciousness of the wider football world.
Owen remembers the occasion in St Etienne well, and understands what an impact one moment of magic like that can have on a player's career.
'You need good people around you. I suppose if you are a normal level-headed person it is easier to deal with, even if you don't enjoy it so much,' he said. 'It did show what England means and what the World Cup means to the world of football. You can be a world star in one tournament.
'If you are ever going to play your best games that is the time to do it. It is the biggest tournament in the world. Everyone wants to play well. Hopefully we have some big match players who will perform at the highest level.'
If anyone is going to do that, Wayne Rooney would appear to be the man. 'There is an expectation,' said Owen. 'The nation is saying we need Wayne Rooney playing well otherwise we have no chance.
'But he is man enough to take it. He wants to be the best and he knows he is very good. He also has had a hard season. Let's hope he has a little bit more energy to give before he has his holiday after the World Cup.'
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