McClaren still optimistic over Owen's fitness

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LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) England coach Steve McClaren is still hoping to name Michael Owen in his squad for England's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Estonia and Russia this month.

Owen had surgery on his groin on Friday but early indications are that the Newcastle United striker may be fit in time for the October 13 meeting with Estonia.

''I can't predict anything, there are a lot of hurdles that you need to get over before you are fully fit,'' McClaren told Sky Sports News. ''But the operation has gone well, he'll do the necessary work and we'll take it day by day.

''It's vital to have your best players available and Michael is one of them. He makes the difference, he scores the goals that win you football matches and that's what you need.'' Owen's surgeon also believes he has a chance.

''The operation has been perfect, without any problems,'' Dr Ulrike Muschaweck, who performed the surgery in Germany, told Sky Sports News.

''I think after eight or 10 days, he can be back to full activity. I don't know about the game for Newcastle but in a maximum of 14 days he will be back on full activity.'' Owen missed virtually the whole of last season with a cruciate knee injury sustained while playing for England at the World Cup last year.

He missed the start of this season with a thigh injury but returned to hit three goals in England's victories over Israel and Russia last month.

He hurt his groin against Derby County in a league match and limped off against West Ham United last week.

REUTERS BJR RK0940

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