Gerrard would relish Owen return to Liverpool

Steven Gerrard has described Michael Owen as a "fantastic player" and admitted he would be more than happy to link up with his former Liverpool team-mate if he decides to make a swift return to the Premiership.

Steven Gerrard has described Michael Owen as a "fantastic player" and admitted he would be more than happy to link up with his former Liverpool team-mate if he decides to make a swift return to the Premiership.

Reports have been linking Owen with a move away from Real Madrid after he failed to receive assurances that he could command a regular first-team place. Despite being the Spanish club's most efficient scorer with 11 goals in all competitions, Real's coach, Wanderley Luxemburgo, has kept faith with the Brazilian forward Ronaldo, rather than reward the England striker. Liverpool reportedly have first option on the player they reluctantly sold.

Gerrard said: "Michael is world class. He is not getting many minutes on the field which is unfortunate because he deserves to play more. His goals to games ratio is fantastic. I think the new manager will be playing him more."

Gerrard added he would be delighted to play again with Owen in the Premiership, saying: "Of course - I play with him at international level. Michael is a fantastic player to play with although I am not sure what decisions he is going to make in his career. I love playing with Michae. He is a fantastic footballer."

The Liverpool midfielder, who has been linked with a move to Chelsea, also revealed his admiration for David Beckham - the man who some have tipped Gerrard to replace as England captain. He said: "I have got a lot of respect for David Beckham as a person and player. Every player goes through dips in form - you can't always play at your highest level - I've had dips in form myself. But in his recent games he has been back at his best."

The Liverpool legend Ian Rush also wants the club to try to bring Owen back to Anfield. Rush had a similar experience in his own career when he returned to Liverpool after an unhappy spell with Juventus in 1988.

He said: "If Michael Owen considers returning to England at the end of the season, I'd be amazed if Liverpool didn't do all they could to bring him back to the club.

"Regardless of the fact that he's a former player, whenever a striker of his quality becomes available, you want Liverpool to be competing for his signature."

The Liverpool midfielder Harry Kewell stepped up his comeback from injury by playing 60 minutes in the reserves' 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Monday night. The Australian international has been out for two months with a groin injury but is hoping to prove his fitness in an attempt to be involved with next week's Champions' League game against the Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.

Kewell was deployed as a central striker with another player pushing for a first-team return, Vladimir Smicer, operating on the left.

The Spanish full-back Josemi, who has been out for a similar length of time with a knee injury, played the first half. The French forward Anthony le Tallec claimed the Liverpool equaliser at the Racecourse Ground after James Milner had opened the scoring for Newcastle.

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