Michael Owen must continue to wait for another England chance, but coach Fabio Capello has confirmed the Manchester United striker will be welcomed back into the squad if he can rediscover his scoring touch. Owen missed out on a place in Capello's squad for next week's friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam, while veteran Portsmouth goalkeeper David James did not feature due to injury and Peter Crouch was also omitted.
Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle United frontman Owen won the most recent of his 89 caps against France in March 2008, but his move to Old Trafford this summer has provided him with the platform to return from the international wilderness, in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Owen was left out by Capello while he struggled with his fitness at Newcastle, but the striker has shown signs of returning to his best form during United's pre-season campaign.
His chances of an international recall improved dramatically when Sir Alex Ferguson paired Owen with Wayne Rooney and he may have another chance to impress in Sunday's Community Shield against Chelsea.
"I think it is a fantastic chance for Owen to play another time with a really important team and in the [UEFA] Champions League," said Capello. "It is another chance and that is really important for the player. The door is open.
"He has to play well and score goals. He has to get back to what he was before last season."
When asked if he believed Owen could rediscover the form that saw him score 40 goals for England during a career that began in February 1998, Capello replied: "It is very important to play with an important team. He is young, he is only 29. He is not old, so why not?"
[Owen] has to play well and score goals. He has to get back to what he was before last season.
Capello also believes that playing with Rooney can enhance Owen's chances, but any player has to demonstrate he is at the top of his game to ensure he is selected.
"We choose the players in form at the right moment," said Capello. "Rooney is in a good moment of form. It is important for the future to know the movement better, it will be easier for both of them.
"I want to keep the spirit of the group, to stay together, to prepare for the next really important game against Croatia," he said. "It's very important to play well and I will choose the best."
Becks on board
Another player in his squad is David Beckham, who will fly over from the USA for the match. Beckham has told Capello he wants to remain a part of the England set-up, despite being criticised by fans of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Beckham left Galaxy to play for AC Milan at the end of the Major League Soccer [MLS] season and Capello says it is important for his future England career that he continues to play first-team football, meaning he will need a move when the MLS season comes to a close this autumn.
"I spoke about this problem last year," said Capello. "He played with AC Milan and played very well and was happy. If he wants to stay with us, he has to play.
"Now he plays with the Galaxy, but he wants to play with them and England. This is the problem. The fans have to understand also he is English, this is the reason why he played with AC Milan," he said.
"It's a long flight to come here. But we know he wants to stay [with us] because Franco [Baldini, an assistant of Capello] spoke with him and met him and said he wants to come."
The timing of next week's friendly, just three days prior to the start of a new season, has concerned some Premier League managers. But Capello said: "It's not a problem because the players are fresh.
"We will decide with the players and speak with them because some will have played Saturday, others will have played Sunday. The training will be different.
"I respect managers and their ideas. It is important to have a relationship with the managers, but more important is that when the players play with us, they have to understand my style," he said.
"Every manager has a different style and I respect that. I speak with managers always about the general situation about the players, but after that I decide.
"If a manager tells me a player is tired and can play only until half-time, okay, it is not a problem," said Capello. "But I will decide."