Fabio Capello brings Michael Owen back into England contention
Although it is expected that Owen will not make the final squad when it is announced on Saturday evening, it does at least indicate that he is in Capello's thoughts following his encouraging pre-season form for United. Capello watched Owen in the friendly against Valencia on Wednesday night at Old Trafford but he is still likely to remain behind Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Emile Heskey in the pecking order. Related ArticlesWilshere overlooked by EnglandRobson gave heart and soul to footballSir Bobby laid to restOwen has played no part so far in the faultless World Cup qualifying campaign and it is now almost two years since he scored his last international goal. Capello, though, has made it clear that it is up to any player to force his way into the squad through his club performances and he will have approved of Owen's move to Manchester United where he could potentially play alongside Rooney. Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is another who has caught the eye of Capello during pre-season but, despite being compared to a young Rooney by his manager, Arsene Wenger, Arsenal do not expect the 17 year-old to be selected tonight. The timing of England's friendly in Amsterdam just three days before the start of the Premier League season has been criticised by several leading managers. Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who has been without James Milner, Craig Gardner and Gabriel Agbonlahor for most of his pre-season programme after their involvement with England in the European Under-21 Championship, described it as "strange and pointless". Wenger has already highlighted the intense fixture schedule facing his players, particularly with a two-legged Champions League qualifying tie against Celtic on Aug 18 and Aug 26. Mark Hughes, the Manchester City manager, also complained that pre-season preparations were being compromised. "It is a frustration because historically the week leading into the first game was always really important," he said. "That period was when you fine-tuned the team and tried to get everyone at the same level in terms of fitness and mentality going into the first game." The Holland squad for next week's friendly was announced yesterday, with Liverpool's Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt both selected as well as Arsenal's Robin van Persie and Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong. Before the match at the Amsterdam Arena next Wednesday there will be a minute's silence in memory of former England manager Bobby Robson, who died eight days ago. Robson also led PSV Eindhoven to the Dutch league title in 1991 and 1992.
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