Relief for Eriksson as Owen given all-clear

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The Independent Online

First, it was David Beckham's ankle, now Michael Owen's foot has sent a chill through Sven Goran Eriksson's blood.

Initial reports from Liverpool's hotel in Cologne suggested the England striker had suffered a fractured foot in Tuesday's European Cup quarter-final defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, which, if confirmed, would have almost certainly ruled him out of this summer's World Cup. He was examined at the hotel by Gérard Houllier's brother, a doctor, who suspected merely heavy bruising, and an x-ray on Merseyside confirmed his suspicions. Liverpool stated that he should be fit to face Sunderland on Saturday evening, let alone Sweden on 2 June.

Admittedly the hysteria was not in the same category for Owen, who was able to walk normally and wore his usual shoes, as it had been for his England captain, whose bandaged ankle on his return from La Coruña covered the front page of one tabloid newspaper which instructed its readers to pray for his recovery.

Like Owen, Beckham recovered from his injury, sustained in the first leg of Manchester United's European Cup quarter-final, with surprising speed. Nevertheless, whether Owen is fit or not will, according to Houllier, make no difference to England's chances of winning the World Cup. He gives them little hope.

"England will not win the World Cup," declared Liverpool's French manager. "Perhaps Sven will pin my words up and use it to motivate his players. England are lucky to have a generation of good young players aged between 18 and 25, like Joe and Ashley Cole, Michael Carrick and Kieron Dyer. They have 40 good young players who will be at their peak at 27. England could be competitive in Euro 2004 or the 2006 World Cup when these players have been through major tournaments but right now they need more time."

Sean Davis, the Fulham and England Under-21 international midfielder, has been charged with drink-driving, police confirmed yesterday.

The 22-year-old was stopped in his BMW in Battersea, south London, on Easter Sunday. He was breathalysed and charged with drink driving, just hours after Fulham's 1-1 draw at Southampton and the day before the 1-0 home defeat against West Ham. Davis played in both matches.

A police spokesman said: "Sean Davis, 22, appeared at Southwestern Magistrates Court on 2 April, charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol in Battersea Park Road on 31 March."

Davis, who lives in Wimbledon, had his case adjourned until Tuesday this week and then postponed again as all remand cases in England and Wales were called off as a mark of respect for the funeral of the Queen Mother.

The former Fulham trainee – the club's only player to perform in all four divisions during their rise from the Third Division to the Premiership – is now consulting his solicitor and deciding whether to plead guilty when he returns to the court at 10am on April 23.

If he pleads guilty, his case is likely to be dealt with that day. If he protests his innocence, the hearing is likely to be adjourned again, possibly until after the European Under-21 Championships in Switzerland in May.

In that scenario, the England Under-21 coach, David Platt, will then have to decide whether to follow the lead taken by the senior side's coach, Eriksson, over players who make the headlines for the wrong reasons, and exclude Davis from his squad.

Manchester City have promoted Arthur Cox to assistant manager from his position of chief scout. Cox, the Newcastle manager when they signed Kevin Keegan as a player in the early 1980s, will maintain his role as chief scout.

Leicester City have decided to change the name of their new ground to the Walkers Stadium after the original choice of the Walkers Bowl received widespread criticism.

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