Owen defends under-fire Rooney

Manchester United striker Michael Owen defended under-fire teammate Wayne Rooney following his lacklustre performance for England in the World Cup.

London: Manchester United striker Michael Owen defended under-fire teammate Wayne Rooney following his lacklustre performance for England in the World Cup.

Rooney returned from South Africa without a goal to his name despite being tipped to take the competition by storm.

But Owen is confident that the 24-year-old can get back to his best after a summer break.

"People talk about Wayne after the World Cup because he is Wayne, but there were other players who didn`t perform at the World Cup too," said Owen on Thursday.

"People will inevitably focus on Wayne, though. He wasn`t at the top of his game, for whatever reason - whether it was tiredness or because the rest of the team around him wasn`t playing well.

"He wasn`t at his best but we all know he`s a world-class player. After a few weeks off he will be back and scoring again."

Out-of-favour England striker Owen insisted he was still available to answer Fabio Capello`s call should the England manager decide to offer him a return to international football.

A move to Premier League runners-up Manchester United last summer failed to re-ignite Owen`s England career with the former Liverpool striker`s only appearance under Capello over two years ago.

The 30-year-old was unavailable for the World Cup because of a hamstring injury and admits it was frustrating to watch England crash at the tournament.

"I went to the last three World Cups and a couple of European Championships so it`s been really different this time," he said.

"It was frustrating for me and for everyone. There were a lot of questions that came out of the tournament."

"I obviously missed the tournament through injury.

Whether I would`ve been picked is another matter. I missed it because I wasn`t available but I`ve definitely not retired from international football," Owen said.

Owen has undergone surgery this summer in a bid to cure the latest in a long line of injuries which have plagued him throughout his career.

The former Newcastle striker is confident that he will be available for the start of the new season.

"I might just have to miss the first one or two games in pre-season but after that I should be fine," said Owen.

"I have been working throughout the summer to try to get back fit. I`m kicking balls, I`m striding, running around so I`ll be ready for the start of the season."

Regardless of whether Owen returns in time for the new campaign, the former Real Madrid man says he and his team-mates will be desperate to wrestle the Premier League trophy back from Chelsea, who won the league by just a single point last year.

"One of the things that struck me when I arrived at United was the desire to win," he said.

"(Ryan) Giggs, (Paul) Scholes, (Gary) Neville, and the manager, all expect to win.

"They are driven by winning and if they don`t win they feel this extra amount of motivation and that`s what they will be like next season.”


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