Football: Owen is planning prodigal return

England's teenage striker is having a lean spell by his standards but is confident of impressing in tomorrow's Euro 2000 qualifier.

IT IS a tough life being a teenage prodigy. One goal in a month, or alternatively, none in four games, or one in 11 hours' football, and you are deemed to be having a crisis.

Even Glenn Hoddle, inadvertently, jumped on to the bandwagon at Bisham Abbey yesterday when he noted "Alan Shearer's goal against Sweden set him on his goalscoring run, hopefully this match with Bulgaria will enable Michael Owen to do the same."

Owen, as level-headed as ever, though perhaps a bit more tetchy than usual, is having none of it. Like Shearer in his dry spells, he pointed to performances rather than goals, insisted he was still confident, and denied there was a problem anyway.

"I've scored five goals this season and not many players have scored more than that. But it is not just goals, there is a lot more to me than that, I've created a couple for Robbie Fowler just recently. If the team is winning it doesn't matter who scores the goals.

"I know I'm not going to score goals like I did against Argentina every week, no one can expect that. I still expect to score, though. I don't think I'm in a bad patch. I'm still confident.

"It is a compliment that people expect me to score, it's nice to have them willing you to do well. But the person who puts most pressure on me to score, and is most down if I don't, is myself."

Not, Owen hastened to add, that this was affecting his love of the game. "I still enjoy my football, when you don't do that it's time to quit and I'm a long way off that. I don't even want to be rested for any games.

"It might do me good, I don't know, but I don't feel tired. The time for that is when you're 40 and finished. It's still the best thing in the world to pull on the shirt and play with club or country."

Jamie Redknapp, Owen's Liverpool team-mate, said teams had defended deeper against them this season in an attempt to nullify Owen's pace. This, he said, created opportunities for others. "When I spoke to the Chelsea players after Sunday's game," said Redknapp, "they said they were more worried about conceding goals to someone like myself, or Patrik Berger, having a shot from 20 yards than from Michael because they were so deep."

The same may occur against Bulgaria on Saturday, especially with England being at home. "Teams are paying more attention to me, but I've got to find ways of dealing with it," said Owen.

Hoddle criticised his partnership with Shearer after the Sweden match and, said Owen, they had been working on it in training. "It was a difficult game from a personal point of view but you get difficult games. It may have been the service or it may have been me not moving enough.

"The manager's main criticism was that we were too flat at the front. It is not a case of one player doing this or that, it is a bit of both, it can be either man coming off. I think we are both capable of either passing it, playing a killer ball or running at the defence, it is a matter of reading the game.

"Alan and I have the makings of a good partnership but it will take time. People said me and Robbie [Fowler] wouldn't work, but we have a decent record together. No one would accuse me of being a similar player to Alan.

He is a big strong lad who holds the ball up well. I don't, but hopefully I'm better at some other things.

"We're not dinner partners but we speak on the phone and we occasionally meet on promotional activity for Umbro."

"They've worked on it on the practice pitch and looked at videos," said Hoddle. "They are talented players, both goalscorers, and I hope that, with a little bit of tinkering with the partnership, we can cause more problems than we did to Sweden.

"I tried to change it during the game, but sometimes when you are chasing the game, as we were, you play individually rather than collectively."

Owen has yet to score for the senior side at Wembley but was twice on the mark at junior level, against Brazil and Germany. Not that he is panicking. "I've only played one full game there so it's not a crisis," he said. "I know my time will come whether it is Saturday or not."

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam