England coach Fabio Capello has insisted Manchester United striker Michael Owen needs to follow up last week's UEFA Champions League hat-trick with regular football to secure a place at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
The 30-year-old's treble against Wolfsburg led to suggestions he could force his way in the Italian's squad for next year's world finals, but he has only made substitute appearances against Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers since.
"I saw the last game he played, on television, and he scored three goals in the Champions League but the next game he did not play," said Capello. "For this reason, I ask myself why? Why (Wayne) Rooney plays always and Owen not? He is one of the important England players."
I saw the last game he played, on television, and he scored three goals in the Champions League but the next game he did not play.
Owen has been in provisional squads recently and where he ranks come the end of the season will depend on injuries to other players. At the moment, Capello has 30 players in mind to compete for the 23 available places in his squad for South Africa 2010.
"The players I choose will be fit and will play a lot of games," Capello told BBC Radio Five Live. "In my mind I have 30 players because, I hope not, but if someone is not fit or injured, I have to decide the 23 players at the last moment. I follow all the players and check every moment what happens and when we decide, the players that will come with me to South Africa will be fit.
"I am checking the general situation in every game, if they improve or don't improve, or some young players who play one or two games. (James) Milner at the moment has changed position, from the wing and now (is playing) like a (central) midfielder. (Wes) Brown played right-back last season and this year he has been centre-back."
Capello wants to play Egypt at Wembley on 3 March, then arrange a friendly with Mexico. He added: "We have to decide. We are speaking with these countries but have not decided yet. I think we will play 3 March at Wembley, against Egypt, then we have to find the date to play against Mexico.
"There are some problems, I don't know if we will play Sunday or Monday. All the friendly games we played were against European teams and we know the style of these teams. We have to play against South Americans and African teams with a different style."