Owen left out after failing the Capello fitness test

Michael Owen was excluded from the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Croatia simply because he has not regained full fitness and not because the manager, Fabio Capello, has deliberately snubbed him. The decision to leave out the 28-year-old came after the England coach watched Newcastle United's 3-0 defeat away to Arsenal on Saturday.

Capello has a policy of only selecting players who are fully fit – which is one reason why he has excluded Tottenham Hotspur's Jonathan Woodgate, who has a slight stomach injury. Although Owen has scored twice for Newcastle this season, he has started only one game after recovering from a calf injury and mumps.

Capello is understood to believe Owen still has a future in international football, not least because England have few alternatives to the striker, who has scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for his country but has played just 45 minutes since the Italian took over.

Capello had travelled to the Emirates with the intention of including Owen if he was convinced that the player was fit, but he was disappointed by what he saw. Nevertheless, leaving Owen out is a risky strategy for Capello, whose attacking options are limited to Wayne Rooney, Emile Heskey, Theo Walcott and Jermain Defoe, who appears certain to start against Andorra on Saturday.

When he took charge of England Capello did have reservations about Owen, believing his future might be limited to being an impact player from the bench. It could be argued that Owen's continuing injury problems have simply confirmed his reservations.

Capello also sprang another surprise by selecting Fulham's Jimmy Bullard, but he and his scouts have been hugely impressed by the 29-year-old's displays at the end of last season and the start of this campaign and have been eager to add some new blood to the squad. Without the injured Steven Gerrard, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick, Capello's options were again limited but he is adamant that he will select players on performances not reputations.

Capello did consider including Manchester City's Michael Johnson but, again, the midfielder is not believed to be fully fit. Another option was Tottenham Hotspur's Tom Huddlestone but it was decided he was needed for the Uefa Under-21 Championship qualifier against Portugal at Wembley this Friday – a game he is likely to start – rather than simply be in the senior squad. Aston Villa's Nigel Reo-Coker was discussed as another choice but it was decided Bullard, because of his greater creativity, should have his chance.

Interestingly, Capello would have included Hargreaves if the 27-year-old had played for Manchester United in last Friday's Super Cup fixture against Zenit St Petersburg. The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, had said he would include the midfielder but added that he would not be fit enough to be selected by England.

Capello is not fazed by the prospect of upsetting club managers and would have exercised his right to call up Hargreaves, so that his knee injury could be assessed by England's own doctors, if he had featured in Monaco. Indeed, Capello travelled to the principality in the hope of seeing the player in action as well as to run the rule over United's other England squad members.

Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin