The England door remains open to Michael Owen despite his season-ending injury, according to under-21 coach Stuart Pearce.
Pearce has dismissed suggestions that the 30-year-old Manchester United striker will never play for his country again.
Owen's already slim hopes of forcing his way into Fabio Capello's World Cup squad were effectively ended last week when he was told he would miss the rest of the season following hamstring surgery.
The former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle striker's last international appearance came in a friendly against France back in March 2008.
However, Pearce, who is part of Capello's backroom staff with the full national side, does not accept that Owen's latest injury setback spells the end of his England career.
"It's wrong to say Michael's international career is over and that Fabio doesn't like him," Pearce told The Sun.
"He picks the squad on merit and the door is still open for Michael."