Manchester United biding time with Owen

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The Independent Football

Manchester United are breaking Michael Owen in gently at Old Trafford following his surprise free transfer move from Newcastle in the summer.

Owen marked his return to the starting XI at Barnsley, after being on the bench against Liverpool, with his third goal of the season in the Carling Cup victory.

It now remains to be seen whether he will retain his place on Saturday when United return to league business following the 2-0 defeat at Anfield.

Blackburn are next up at Old Trafford, and assistant manager Mike Phelan is pleased with Owen's progress.

He said: "Michael has come to Manchester United as it a fresh challenge for him.

"We can use him as and when we need to use him. He is not at the forefront of everything.

"It gives him time to prepare and be ready for games like Barnsley. Alternatively we can bring him on as substitute or start him in a first team game."

Phelan believes Owen's finishing power has not diminished and his goal against Barnsley was a prime example of the striker's art.

"Michael is always looking and always on the move," said the assistant boss.

"He was quick to take the shot. He got it out of his feet quickly and caught the keeper by surprise.

"That is the quality of Michael Owen and those qualities are of benefit to us."

Meanwhile, United have submitted a claim of mistaken identity to the Football Association after Fabio da Silva was booked by referee Chris Foy against Barnsley.

Instead the offender - for a challenge on Jamal Campbell-Ryce - was his twin brother Rafael.

The FA confirmed they have been approached by United and the submission will be heard on Tuesday by a regulatory commission.

The Brazilian twins helped United secure a place in the last eight of the competition thanks to a 2-0 victory against the Coca-Cola Championship side.

However the holders finished the game with 10 men after Foy sent off Gary Neville for clattering into Adam Hammill.

Neville is now ruled out of the Blackburn match as he starts a three-match suspension while Darren Fletcher remains doubtful with a groin problem.