He has waited long enough, but Michael Owen may have to show more patience before earning an England recall after Manchester United's new striker failed to impress in front of Fabio Capello at Old Trafford last night.
Capello is poised to name his squad as England launch the countdown to next summer's World Cup with a friendly against Holland next Wednesday. After hearing of Owen's impressive form during United's tour of Asia, Capello took the opportunity to check out the former Liverpool player, whose last appearance for his country was March 2008.
He probably wishes he had not bothered as Owen squandered a hatful of chances to mark his Old Trafford debut with a goal.
"He should have scored four," admitted Sir Alex Ferguson before adding quickly "he probably deserved one of them."
At least Capello did not have a completely wasted journey. Wayne Rooney goes into Sunday's Community Shield against Chelsea having scored his third goal of the pre-season before 19-year-old substitute Tom Cleverley cemented United's sixth win of the summer.
Although this was United's seventh pre-season game in two-and-a-half-weeks, it was the first time Ferguson had opted to play Rooney and Owen together. All appeared to be going to plan when Rooney went close in the sixth minute before Owen headed a 14th minute opportunity wide.
Unfortunately the evening went downhill for Owen after that. After being put clean through by Rooney in the 21st minute, the free signing from Newcastle should have been celebrating his fifth goal in a United shirt.
This time, however, Owen's composure deserted him as he stabbed the ball wide of the target with only the keeper to beat.
Ferguson has been hit by mounting injury problems as his side prepare to launch the defence of their Premier League crown against Birmingham in 10 days time. United were without Edwin van der Sar, Nemanja Vidic, Owen Hargreaves, Gary Neville, Park Ji-Sung and Gabriel Obertan due to one problem or another last night.
Wes Brown and Rafael were also absent yet Ferguson was able to breathe a sigh of relief that all his players on show emerged unscathed.
The only damage was to Owen's pride, the player missing another excellent chance before Rooney showed his colleague how to score when he headed home a 52nd minute cross by the impressive Antonio Valencia.
The team Valencia, who finished sixth in La Liga last season, made 10 changes at half time and even brought on goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya as an outfield player.
In a second half disrupted by changes, Owen was finally put out of his misery in the 62nd minute when he made way for Dimitar Berbatov.
Cleverley, who ended last season on loan at Leicester, doubled the score in the 74th minute before Darron Gibson forced an excellent save from Cesar Sanchez in the last minute.
Manchester United (4-4-2): Foster; De Laet, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Valencia, Fletcher, Carrick, Tosic; Owen, Rooney. Substitutes: Kuszczak (gk), Anderson, Berbatov, Giggs, Nani, Scholes, F Da Silva, O'Shea, Gibson, Cleverley, Macheda.
Valencia (4-5-1) Sanchez; Saltor, Navarro, Delalbert, Mathieu; Joaquin, Baraja, Michel, Albelda, Mata; Villa. Substitutes: Maduro, Marchena, Carleto, Vicente, Banega, Hernandez, Alexis, Silva, Miguel, Moya (gk), Miku.
Referee: M Clattenburg.Reuse content