Prolific striker 'still not finished article'

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The Independent Online

Michael Owen said he wanted to become England's leading striker for years to come after scoring his eighth goal for his country on Saturday, writes Glenn Moore.

Michael Owen said he wanted to become England's leading striker for years to come after scoring his eighth goal for his country on Saturday, writes Glenn Moore.

"Alan Shearer's left so there is a place to be filled," he said, adding: "The plan for me is to fill it for many years like Alan did and Gary Lineker did before him."

Given his youth Owen can exceed the tenure of Lineker (1985-1992) and Shearer (1992-2000) though he has still to convince Kevin Keegan of his primacy over Andy Cole and others.

Keegan, while "delighted" with Owen's goal, said: "There's a lot you can't teach him, like pace and goalscoring, he mastered that while still a schoolboy, but he is not the finished article. Building the play up on him, taking some of that responsibility, is probably the area [he needs to improve most]."

Owen responded: "I know I've got to hold the ball up better, have a better left foot and better headers but I am improving.

"But I have still got to do the things I am best at: running at people, using my pace, getting into the box. I have got to play to my strengths and I know defenders aren't going to like that because I have scored a few goals playing that way."

Owen stressed he was comfortable playing as the lone striker and had done so successfully at Southampton last week. He added being substitute had been "difficult" and he hoped to start against Germany next month.

"I don't like being left out, it's not a nice feeling, but you've got to get yourself in the right frame of mind to come on. It's easy to sulk but you've got to be professional.

"I've been injured but I know I'll be better than I was, better than I have ever been. I just need a bit of time."

Keegan said: "I know he was annoyed I left him out but I couldn't be more delighted. He's never knocked on my door, he's never got his head down, he just turned and looked at the bench when he scored as if to say: 'There's a little reminder for you'. That's the way to do it and that, for someone who's 20 years old, is not always easy."

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