Owen looks forward to World Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Michael Owen isn't worried about the pressure of being England's main striker at the World Cup.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Michael Owen isn't worried about the pressure of being England's main striker at the World Cup. He would rather prove he's fully recovered from a broken foot which has limited him to 30 minutes of soccer in 2006. With key forward Wayne Rooney struggling to recover from his broken foot in time for England's Group B games, and Liverpool striker Peter Crouch untested in international competition, the focus is again on Owen. ''I never get so excited that I can't think and I never get too low,'' Owen said at England's training camp at Vale do Lobo in Portugal. ''I'm able to keep a middle ground on a lot of things. ''The first time I ever played in the World Cup I scored, the first time I played in a football match I scored, the first time I played for Liverpool I scored. If you do it first time, it's not a confidence thing it's deep within you that you know you can do it. ''I don't go to sleep thinking about the pressure, I think about that little rectangle that I've got to smack the ball into - and that's about it.'' Fifth World Cup The June 9-July 9 World Cup will be Owen's fifth tournament with England. He made his mark at the 1998 World Cup in France with a weaving solo run to score against Argentina and has been England's first-choice striker ever since. Owen said he was disappointed that injury had restricted his first season at English Premier League club Newcastle. He moved there after a disappointing 12 months at Real Madrid, where he'd struggled to hold down a first-team place. Before that he was at Liverpool. ''I think I've played 20 games this year between club and country - that's probably 20 fewer than being perfect if you're talking about preparing for the World Cup,'' Owen said. ''But in saying that I prefer to have played 20 fewer than 20 too many. I'm raring to go, I'm fit, I feel sharp in training. I'm looking at it now as a positive thing.'' Owen said even without Rooney, England had ''one of the best squads in the tournament,'' but said the attitude had to be right if it was to advance beyond the quarterfinals. ''Every other country must be saying the same thing apart from Brazil, and maybe France who won it eight years ago,'' Owen said. ''Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Argentina - their press must be saying the same thing to them. And if you keep drilling it into everyone 'Are we perennial losers?' you're not doing any favors to our team.'' Owen said an extra week's preparation and a European tournament would help England, which hasn't advanced past the quarters since the 1990 World Cup, where it lost in the semifinals. England's only tournament win was the 1966 World Cup. ''You have to think this World Cup year we're playing in Germany, it's going to be similar time zones, temperatures, style of football, pitches, everything,'' Owen said. ''It's just whether we're good enough as a team or not.'' The 26-year-old Owen made his England debut as a teenager, and was keen to see 17-year-old rookie Theo Walcott do well. Walcott made his first England team without playing for club Arsenal. (AP)

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