Football: Fulham wary of rested Owen

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The Independent Online
KEVIN KEEGAN returns to Anfield tonight but any notions that the club where he became an idol will do him a favour by resting Michael Owen in the Worthington Cup third-round tie is tempered by the knowledge that Liverpool have other formidable talents to draw on.

Owen returned from being rested against Valencia in last week's Uefa Cup game to score four goals against Nottingham Forest on Saturday, and Second Division Fulham, Keegan's current charges, will be more confident of an cup upset if Owen's name is not on the team sheet.

Fulham's assistant manager, Frank Sibley, said: "I watched Match of the Day and was very impressed. A week ago everyone was saying how jaded Owen looked but he didn't look jaded on Saturday. But there will be no special measures for him because he might not play. They might leave Owen out and bring Robbie Fowler back."

Another former Liverpool player, Peter Beardsley, now in his third month on loan at Fulham, believes Owen will become as much of an Anfield legend as his old striking partner, Ian Rush. "Owen's magnificent. There is no other way to describe him," Beardsley said. "I played against him for Bolton last year and it was a pleasure to be on the same pitch. He has the potential to be as good as Rush."

Keegan, the Thamessiders' chief operating executive, will miss out on the chance to marshal his side at the ground where he became a hero. Keegan is still recovering from a neck operation last week, but is expected to watch the game from the stands.

"It's a special game for him and he had some great memories there and I'm sure the crowd will give him a fantastic reception," Sibley said.

Fulham, who beat Southampton in the last round, go into the game high on confidence after a run of four wins in five games which has seen them climb to third in the Second Division.

"If we could have chosen anywhere to go it would not have been Liverpool," Sibley added. "We know what to expect, they are an extremely talented side and we will be playing against a different class of player. All we can do is play our best. We have about 4,000 supporters going up with us and hopefully we can give them something to shout about."

Alex Ferguson plans to make changes for Manchester United's home tie with Bury - but the Old Trafford manager's line-up is still likely to be the envy of most managers.

Ferguson normally turns to his fringe players for the League Cup but this time the shadow side will include many full internationals. The Norwegian World Cup players Henning Berg and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are expected to play and Ronny Johnsen could also be included. He is back in training after an ankle ligament injury.

Jordi Cruyff also looks certain to start the game after scoring against Derby on Saturday. England's Nicky Butt could figure after missing three games through suspension and Phil Neville is expected to start. Teddy Sheringham could be included if he has recovered from a calf strain. Ferguson may also include Sweden's Jesper Blomqvist but Wes Brown, the talented young defender, will be rested after four first-team appearances.

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