Owen and Beckham set for Istanbul job
LONDON: England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is confident Michael Owen will be joining David Beckham in Istanbul on Saturday for the crucial Euro 2004 qualifier against Turkey.
Eriksson delayed naming his side while Owen was underwent physio at his club Liverpool on Monday but the signs are that the striker would be fit for the Turkish battle. Owen underwent a scan on the injury on Sunday which revealed a split in the lining between the fibula and tibia bones in his lower right leg
Beckham limped off at the end of Real Madrid’s 2-1 win over Espanyol with a dead leg but said he would be fit. Owen’s absence would be a blow for England, who have relied heavily on his goals to keep their Euro 2004 hopes alive. If he does miss out, England may risk the untried duo of Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney.
Assuming there are no setbacks, Owen will join up with the England squad at their Hertfordshire hotel base on Tuesday for more treatment ahead of Thursday’s flight to Turkey. Turkey have their own injury worries with captain Hakan Sukur doubtful with a knee injury.
The striker, dubbed the Bull of the Bosphorous, was to have a scan on Monday. The 32-year-old Galatasaray star limped off after an hour of the 4-3 win over Sebatspor on Saturday. Turkeys technical director Can Cobanoglu said: “Hakan is very important so we will leave the decision on his fitness until Saturday.” Sukur has scored 40 goals in 87 internationals. One man who will definitely be missing is Danish referee Kim Milton Nielsen who injured a thigh during a Danish league game at the weekend.
UEFA will name a replacement in the next few days. Milton sent off Beckham during the 1998 World Cup clash against Argentina for a retaliatory kick at Argentina’s Diego Simeone. The Dane refereed one of last year’s World Cup semi-finals and is ranked third behind Italian Pierluigi Collina and Switzerland’s Urs Meier in the referee rankings. Former England star Chris Waddle has told Eriksson to man-mark Turkey’s midfield star Tugay who plays for English Premiership side Blackburn.
But like Paul Gascoigne, Rooney also has a problem with his temper, as he showed when picking up his fifth yellow card this season in Everton’s 3-0 defeat at Tottenham. But Waddle was prepared to gamble on him. —AFP