Michael Owen snubbed by England again
There were some who suggested Owen's summer move to Manchester United would offer an instant way back into the Three Lions fold. However, even though the 29 year-old scored his first competitive goal for United in last week's hammering of Wigan, Fabio Capello has overlooked England's fourth-highest goalscorer for the Croatia game - where victory will confirm their presence in South Africa - and the friendly with Slovenia which precedes it on Sept 5. In fairness, Owen probably did not expect to get picked anyway, given he is in direct competition with Jermain Defoe, a player who has scored goals for club and country already this term and has been a pivotal figure in Tottenham's superb start to the season. Indeed, Capello's squads are now starting to take on a familiar look. Even the inclusion of Ben Foster, who showed his best and worst sides against Manchester United yesterday, only confirms a position he held in the squad for last month's friendly draw in Holland until the 26 year-old pulled out with a knee injury. As David James misses out for the third squad running after being forced to sit out Portsmouth's home defeat to Manchester City earlier on Sunday with what manager Paul Hart described as "bone bruising", Foster could well play some part against Slovenia at Wembley as he looks to establish himself above Robert Green in the pecking order. The absence of Rio Ferdinand with a thigh strain has provided Wes Brown with a surprise return to international duty. Brown was sidelined for much of last term with an ankle injury and then suffered a thigh problem during United's recent pre-season campaign. However, the experienced defender performed creditably in central defence as United overcame Arsenal at Old Trafford yesterday and Capello knows he also provides cover for Glen Johnson at right-back. Steven Gerrard was an automatic choice to return, while Aaron Lennon was always the No 1 choice to take over from Theo Walcott, who has not played this season due to a back injury Arsene Wenger believes is a direct result of his young star playing for both England's senior side and the under-21s last summer. The other addition is Peter Crouch, who appeared to have been leapfrogged in the England pecking order by Carlton Cole, but is now back among Capello's chosen few having begun to establish himself at Tottenham after a summer move from Portsmouth. England squad: Foster (Manchester United), Green (West Ham), Robinson (Blackburn), Johnson (Liverpool), Brown (Manchester United), Upson (West Ham), Terry (Chelsea, capt), Lescott (Manchester City), A Cole (Chelsea), Bridge (Chelsea), Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Lennon (Tottenham), Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Barry (Manchester City), Lampard (Chelsea), Carrick (Manchester United), Gerrard (Liverpool), A Young (Aston Villa), Milner (Aston Villa), Rooney (Manchester United), Heskey (Aston Villa), Defoe (Tottenham), C Cole (West Ham), Crouch (Tottenham).
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