England coach Fabio Capello has denied Michael Owen an international recall after leaving the Manchester United striker out of his squad for Wednesday's friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam.
Owen has not played for his country since the friendly defeat in France nearly 18 months ago, but his close-season move to United was expected to increase his chances of featuring in Capello's team. But Capello watched Owen miss four good chances during United's friendly win over Valencia at Old Trafford on Wednesday and opted to snub the former Liverpool talent, who is England's fourth highest all-time goalscorer, for the trip to face the Oranje.
Owen's United team-mate Wayne Rooney is joined by Emile Heskey, Jermain Defoe and Carlton Cole to form a four-man strikeforce. That means there is also no place for Peter Crouch, even though the Tottenham Hotspur newcomer was part of the England side that overwhelmed Andorra on their last outing at Wembley.
Earlier this week, Crouch claimed he would score the goals at Tottenham that would earn him a place in the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Yet the 28-year-old is already aware he might need injuries to affect others for him to claim a place in Capello's 23-man squad.
David Beckham, meanwhile, will make the flight back from Los Angeles in order to take part, while Aston Villa winger James Milner also gets a place in the squad.
The other notable absentee is David James. The Portsmouth goalkeeper has been regarded as Capello's first-choice for the position and was expected to return after missing the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying wins against Kazakhstan and Andorra after undergoing shoulder surgery. Although James was part of the Portsmouth side that faced Rangers in a friendly on Saturday, he is missing from Capello's squad as the Italian looks at Ben Foster, Robert Green and Paul Robinson.
There is no reason to assume James will not be handed an instant recall for next month's friendly against Slovenia, which precedes a FIFA World Cup encounter with Croatia that could confirm England's place in the final 32. However, after missing the June victories over Kazhakstan and Andorra, James is facing his longest spell out of the England fold since he was dropped at the start of Steve McClaren's reign.
Now past his 39th birthday, James can hardly be expected to improve, while Foster and West Ham United's Robert Green, who played in the two June games, have progressed over the past 12 months, providing stiff competition to the veteran goalkeeper.
England squad for friendly international on 12 August:
Goalkeepers: Ben Foster (Manchester United), Robert Green (West Ham United), Paul Robinson (Blackburn Rovers)
Defenders: Wayne Bridge (Manchester City), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Joleon Lescott (Everton), John Terry (Chelsea), Matthew Upson (West Ham United)
Midfielders: Gareth Barry (Manchester City), David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), James Milner (Aston Villa), Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Aston Villa)
Strikers: Carlton Cole (West Ham United), Emile Heskey (Aston Villa), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur).