Rooney backs Owen for England recall

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The Independent Online

Wayne Rooney is backing old pal Michael Owen to win his England place back.

Fabio Capello once again overlooked the Three Lions' fourth highest goalscorer when he announced his squad to tackle Holland on Wednesday.

Even though Owen scored four times on United's recent Far East tour, Capello still needs to be convinced the 29-year-old can operate at the highest level.

At least Owen has the opportunity following his surprise move to Manchester United.

And, knowing his former international colleague so well, Rooney is convinced Owen will get the goals required to win Capello round.

"I do see Michael getting back into the England side," said Rooney.

"Obviously it is the manager's decision but he has looked really sharp in pre-season and I am sure if he maintains that form, it won't be long before he is back in the squad."

Ironically, neither Owen nor Rooney took a penalty in yesterday's Community Shield shoot-out defeat to Chelsea at Wembley as misses by Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra meant the Blues' four successful kicks were enough to seal victory before the striking pair had a chance to go for goal themselves.

While disappointed to lose, Rooney was encouraged by some of United's attacking play, especially in the opening half-hour when they created enough chances to seal the contest.

"A draw was probably a fair result," he reflected.

"We played some good football at times, particularly in the first 25 minutes and should have scored another couple of goals.

"To concede two sloppy ones was not great, so we will have to work on that but overall we are reasonably satisfied."

Patrice Evra's personal distaste for Chelsea only increased as a result of being pole-axed by Michael Ballack's off-the-ball tackle.

While Sir Alex Ferguson has professed himself not to be interested in whether the FA take further action against Ballack given the moment where punishment for his challenge would benefit his own side has now passed, the Scot would presumably be irritated if the Germany captain did escape any sanction.

As Evra still nurses a sense of grievance at the four-match ban and £15,000 fine handed out to him by the FA for a post-match fracas at Stamford Bridge in May 2008, the Frenchman would also no doubt conclude a lack of fairness is in operation.

Not that such considerations will come into play next Sunday when United begin their quest for an unprecedented fourth successive league championship - and a record 19th - when they entertain newly-promoted Birmingham.

Ferguson has once again ruled out an incursion into the transfer market prior to the deadline at the end of the month, responding with a curt "Not at £50million" when asked whether Atletico Madrid's Sergio Aguero was on his hit-list.

It means he will go into the new campaign with Federico Macheda joining Rooney, Owen and Dimitar Berbatov in a strikeforce charged with the task of compensating for the goals United have lost in exchange for the world record fee of £80million received from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Not that there will be much chance for United to get back to work on the training ground until Friday given the mass of players now heading away for international duty.

Nani should have been among them. Instead he is nursing a dislocated shoulder Ferguson fears could take a long time to heal judging by the initial failure to restore the bone back to its socket.

It means Antonio Valencia will almost certainly make his competitive debut against Alex McLeish's men, before which Rooney has the small matter of trying to help England record a first win in Holland since 1969 to attend to.

"It does feel a bit strange to have an international right before the league season has started, although to be honest I would prefer it to be now," he said.

"Holland will be a difficult game. They have been in great form and have already qualified for the World Cup.

"But we are looking to get the momentum back from last season so hopefully we can get a positive result."

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