I'm tormented by Owen obsession, says Capello

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The Independent Football

Michael Owen got the bleakest signal yet that he is not in Fabio Capello's England plans yesterday when the Italian described the striker as his "tormentor" because he was so fed up with people asking him when he was going to pick him.

Speaking at a conference at Coverciano, Italian football's elite centre for developing coaches, Capello defended Marcello Lippi's decision not to pick Antonio Cassano in the Italy national team despite pressure to bring him back. Capello said: "I have [Michael] Owen, I also have a tormentor. Everyone has one."

Lippi has been criticised for not reinstating Cassano, formerly the enfant terrible of Italian football, who claims to have mended his ways since returning to Italy with Sampdoria from Real Madrid.

The official line from Capello is that the door is always open to Owen. However, the England manager chose to attend West Ham's game against Arsenal yesterday. His assistant Franco Baldini watched Owen come on as a late substitute at Anfield.

The next England squad will be picked a week on Saturday for the friendly against Brazil in Qatar on 14 November. As it stands, the strikers will be Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch and Emile Heskey with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Theo Walcott also likely to make a strong case for inclusion.

Capello also sparked controversy in Italy when he claimed that football stadiums in England and Spain were much more pleasant environments in which to watch matches because they were free of the hooligan culture that has been such a problem in Italy. "The Ultras do what they want. In the stadium they insult everyone," Capello said in reference to the hardcore club supporters.

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