Football: Owen set to lose promotion chance

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Uefa, European football's governing body, yesterday dealt Michael Owen, sent off in Tuesday's Under-18 international against Yugoslavia, a damaging European Championship blow which has forced the England Under- 21 coach Peter Taylor to abandon his hopes of using Owen in next month's game with Italy.

Taylor was set to call up Owen, but those hopes have been dashed following Owen's dismissal for butting while captaining the England Under-18 side in the goalless draw at Rotherham.

The 17-year-old forward will be handed at least a one-match ban when Uefa's disciplinary committee meets to decide his fate next week and, given the close proximity of the 10 October qualifying date in Rieti, the suspension applies despite being given his marching orders at a different level.

A Uefa spokesperson said: "Normally the general rules state the suspension takes effect in the same competition, but it depends on the time difference between the two games.

"On this occasion the player will be suspended for the game in Italy, particularly as the two tournaments are still running."

Owen was given his marching orders for aiming a butt into the body of Yugoslav defender Sead Muratovic. A disappointed Taylor said: "It's a shame because Michael would definitely have been up for consideration for the Italian game as we need a goal-scorer. I was desperate for him to be with us for the game against Moldova, but we have been trying to be fair to him and Liverpool.

"Unfortunately the sending off will take the possibility of that happening out of my hands and there will now be no need for me to make a decision on whether to pick him.

"Any suspension comes into effect for the next international you are eligible for and the next under-18 and under-21 internationals are both on the same night in October.

"As regards the actual sending off, it is too early for me to comment until I have spoken with Howard Wilkinson, the under-18 manager." England are unbeaten under Taylor but the inability to score goals - just six in seven group matches - is giving him cause for concern.