Owen snubbed again by England in favour of Agbonlahor as Crouch is handed start against Ukraine
31 March 2009 02:51
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Michael Owen has yet again been snubbed by England on the day Fabio Capello revealed that Peter Crouch will start against Ukraine in tomorrow's crunch World Cup qualifier.
England lost yet another striker - Darren Bent - to injury today after the loss of Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole in Saturday's victory over Slovakia, so the Italian has confirmed that Crouch will play.
But rather than calling up Newcastle's Owen, Capello has turned to Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor to replace Bent, who pulled up in training this morning.
'In every interview I said the door, for all the players, is open,' said Capello. 'I chose Agbonlahor because he has played a lot of games. I respect Owen but I am focused on the game of football.'
'I am sure Crouch is the best forward I can put into the first XI. All the players have a lot of confidence and play without fear. Now they are playing with the same confidence they have for their clubs.'
It is the latest snub for Owen, who has not played for England in over a year.
The former England hotshot was not included in the original squad for the double header with Slovakia and Ukraine.
Owen was again overlooked when Heskey and Cole pulled out through injury at the weekend and has now received another blow with the call-up of Agbonlahor for Bent. The Tottenham striker was only called up himself after the Slovakia game.
Capello has turned to Agbonlahor, despite the fact the youngster withdrew from the England Under-21 squad last week with an apparent injury problem.
Agbonlahor was impressive on his senior international debut in Germany last November but has suffered a dramatic loss of form since.
One goal in his last 16 matches for a struggling Villa side saw him booed by his own fans in a recent home game against Tottenham, before he was dropped by Capello when he picked his original squad for the current double-header.
Agbonlahor was selected instead by Under-21s boss Stuart Pearce, only to pull out last Thursday with a hamstring strain. However, the injury appears to have healed sufficiently for him to be considered for tomorrow's crucial match with Group Six rivals Ukraine.
On Bent, Capello said: 'He is injured, he has some problem. He tried to stay here but after the warm-up there was a problem, so I decided to change players.
'We decided to choose Agbonlahor for the next game. I spoke with the manager of Aston Villa and he has been training the last two or three days very well. He is okay now.'
Earlier, Bent had credited team-mate Robbie Keane for helping him win an England recall.
TheSpurs striker was brought back into the squad by Capello as cover forHeskey and Cole for tomorrow's World Cup qualifier with Ukraine atWembley.
Bent has impressed up front with Keane since the Irish forward made his £15million return to White Hart Lane in January.
'Me and Keano are starting to develop a good understanding and that can only come with playing games,' he said.
'Hopefully we can continue to work well and keep scoring until the end of the season.'