Jamie Carragher calls for Michael Owen respect

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The Independent Football

Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher believes former striker Michael Owen deserves to be treated with respect when he returns to Anfield to play in the defender's testimonial tomorrow.

Owen is a long-time friend of the veteran centre-back and has agreed to turn out again in a Liverpool shirt - despite now being a Manchester United player.

The England international's previous returns to Anfield with Newcastle have not been the happiest of homecomings and there have been some suggestions the welcome will be even more hostile now he plays for Reds' arch-rivals, even though it is a testimonial.

Carragher said that would be unfair on Owen, who some fans have not forgiven for leaving the club for Real Madrid after allowing his Liverpool contract to run into its last year.

"I hope it doesn't affect the reception, I think he deserves a great one for what he did for Liverpool," said the centre-back.

"He was a fantastic player - right up there with the greats for what he did.

"He left in difficult circumstances but when he went to Manchester United his career was on a bit of a downward spiral, he'll admit that himself.

"The chance to go to one of the biggest clubs of the world was difficult to turn down.

"He moved and upset some people but he had to do what was right for himself and his family.

"His kids were just starting school and he wanted to move back home so that came into it as well.

"I saw the other day Bobby Charlton played in Tommy Smith's [testimonial] and he wore a Liverpool kit - I think that is worse isn't it?"

Carragher has persuaded the likes of Danny Murphy, Jerzy Dudek, Luis Garcia, Emile Heskey, Steve Finnan and Stephen Warnock to play for his Liverpool XI, which will be managed current boss Roy Hodgson.

Former manager Gerard Houllier, with whom Carragher won the treble of FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001, will also be there but Rafael Benitez, who moved to Inter in July, is unable to attend.

"It will be good for a lot of those players to get the appreciation of the crowd," added Carragher.

"If I was in that situation and moved away from Liverpool I'd love the chance to play at Anfield and pull on the red shirt again."

Some players were unavailable because of international commitments but one who cannot be there is Dietmar Hamann, one of the most well-liked and respected of Carragher's former team-mates.

"Didi would have been a good one but he is actually playing for MK Dons," said the defender.

"But he will come to the evening gala dinner."

All proceeds from tomorrow's game and evening gala dinner go to Carragher's 23 Foundation, which support's local charities and groups.