Owen denies Real Madrid clear-out

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Michael Owen has dismissed speculation that Real Madrid are planning to off-load him and England colleagues David Beckham and Jonathan Woodgate as part of a clear-out at the end of the season. There had been reports that Real's new coach, Wanderley Luxemburgo, was not keen on keeping the three Englishmen and would look to sell them.

"I don't think he [Luxemburgo] has seen me play so I don't know how some English papers have come to that conclusion," Owen said. "I haven't seen it suggested in Spain, but it is an interesting story for the English papers. We haven't played much football since the winter break so it is hard for the manager to see what I or the rest can do."

Sources close to Real have dismissed any suggestion that the club is considering selling the three players. The reports are, in fact likely to have stemmed from a bogus story published by Spanish sports daily, AS, and issued on 28 December, the Spanish equivalent of April Fool's Day.

The paper claimed that Real would try to sell Owen, Beckham and Woodgate to Barcelona in return for their former striker Samuel Eto'o.