Owen says he doesn't see what all the fuss is about

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WATFORD, England, Oct 10 (Reuters) England striker Michael Owen said today he was fully fit to play in his country's upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers and was totally perplexed at all the fuss over his recent hernia operation.

Owen said he had a double hernia operation last Friday and Saturday and his rehabilitation had gone exactly according to the German surgeon's timetable.

He said he was amazed that people were now questioning his recovery schedule and the surgeon's prognosis.

''I no longer have the injury,'' he told reporters at the England squad's hotel just north of London.

''I flew over on Thursday, had the operations on Friday lunchtime and Saturday morning, I was walking on Sunday, jogging on Monday, and did everything: sprints, blasting balls on Thursday,'' said Owen.

''I trained on Friday and Saturday with the team and was available to play for Newcastle on Sunday.

''The manager decided to put me on the bench, but I came on for a quarter of an hour, and felt fine and I am fit as we speak here now.'' Owen scored in Newcastle United's 3-2 win over Everton at St James' Park and said it was odd that people were questioning his fitness and eagerness to play for England over the next week.

''It is strange that people ask questions when you've got a specialist who has done thousands and thousands of operations before is telling you that you can be back in a matter of a few days and I that's exactly what's happened and you still get questioned,'' he said.

England face Estonia at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and Russia in an all-important Group E qualifier in Moscow next Wednesday.

With nine matches played, leaders Croatia have 23 points, England have 20 and Russia 18. A win for England over Estonia and at least a draw in Russia will almost certainly be enough for them to qualify for next year's finals in Austria and Switzerland, depending on the other teams results.

Owen is likely to lead the attack against Estonia on Saturday and will be looking to add to his 40 goals for his country -- nine short of Bobby Charlton's all-time record.

''It's at the back of my mind,'' he admitted. ''But seeing as on average I score about four international goals a year, it might take me another two and a bit years to achieve it.'' Reuters BJR RS2016

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