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Owen has no World Cup worries despite new surgery

Written by: Staff

LONDON, Mar 27 (Reuters) England striker Michael Owen says that his latest operation on a broken foot should not prevent him returning to full match fitness in plenty of time for the World Cup.

Owen had his toe pinned after breaking it playing for Newcastle United on December 31 and underwent further surgery on Friday to have the pins replaced and tightened.

However, he told The Times today that he was confident that he would be 100 percent fit for England's World Cup campaign in Germany.

''I have to admit that I was a bit down when the surgeon rang last week to say that he was advising me to go back into hospital,'' Owen said.

''But there are still 11 weeks until the World Cup starts. I should be back in four. That leaves plenty of time to get my full fitness and, as for scoring goals, I have been doing that all my life and I will have all the same instincts when I am 50.

''There is always a scare or two before a tournament but, if this is as bad as it gets for England, then we should be pretty well off.'' Owen, England's current leading scorer with 35 goals from 75 games, has scored seven in just 10 appearances for Newcastle this season following his move from Real Madrid last year.

If fit, he should be an automatic choice alongside Wayne Rooney up front for England, who face Paraguay, Trinidad&Tobago and Sweden in the first round of the World Cup, which begins on June 9.

''I expect to be playing in four weeks, which, hopefully, gives me the chance to finish the season with Newcastle. The club and the fans have been great to me and I want to pay them back,'' the 26-year-old said.

''I have heard people compare it to David's injury and ask whether the manager should be taking players if they are not fully fit,'' he added, in reference to Beckham's similar injury that hampered his performance during the 2002 World Cup.

''I'm not expecting that to be an issue. I am expecting to go to Germany 100 percent fit.'' REUTERS PM KN1455

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