Football: Owen's European envy

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The Independent Online
MICHAEL OWEN, the Liverpool striker, has admitted he is envious of those Premiership clubs who are taking on the cream of Europe.

In a week when seven of England's top teams are flying the flag on the Continent, Owen was playing for Liverpool at Third Division Hull City. Owen started his first game of the season as the Reds won 5-1 at Boothferry Park in the Worthington Cup second-round first leg.

Owen was delighted to be back in action after a hamstring injury but admitted he would rather have been facing Milan or Fiorentina.

Owen said: "We would have loved to have been in Europe and the Champions' League is an ambition for the club next year. It's a massive tournament and it's frustrating we're not in Europe, but we had a job to do last night and we did it well. I think it's great though to see clubs like Milan coming over to England and playing against our clubs."

However, Owen, who appeared as a substitute in England's two Euro 2000 qualifiers this month, is optimistic about the future for both Liverpool and England.

Good young English players were breaking onto the scene despite the influx of foreign talent in the Premiership, said the 19-year-old. Owen added: "The England Under-21 side speak for themselves at the moment and the lads coming through at Liverpool, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and David Thompson, are all exceptional players and good enough to go on and be good international players.

"I enjoyed coming through into international football at a young age. I learned a lot very quickly and it developed me as a player. It would do the same to any young, good player.

"Look at our Under-21 side and just think what they will be like in a few year's time when they come through and join the likes of Sol Campbell, who are just a few years older than me. I'm definitely optimistic about the future."