Owen keen to make mark
Manchester United striker Michael Owen is aiming to hand manager Sir Alex Ferguson another selection dilemma in the Barclays Premier League title run-in.
Owen has been a virtual onlooker this season as United have roared to the brink of a record 20th title, one of the more long-term absentees from a Red Devils squad that has been ravaged by injury.
"I have to get myself to a stage where I could be available for the last four or five matches. To a certain extent that would be my job done," Owen said. "If I am available, should we get an injury or need a goal in the last 10 minutes then I am there and the manager knows I have a track record that suggests I can do something."
The 32-year-old is closing in on full fitness after battling back from a thigh injury he sustained at the beginning of November. And whilst he knows his impact could only be a fleeting one, Owen intends to give Ferguson something to ponder.
"Whether I play or not is the manager's decision but I can get myself into that position," Owen said.
Manchester City's failure to beat Sunderland on Saturday, followed by United's 2-0 victory at Blackburn on Monday night appears to have tilted the championship so far in Old Trafford's direction it cannot be clawed back.
Certainly the respective run-ins indicate the derby on April 30 that everyone has claimed would be pivotal for so long now looks like being City's only hope of staying in the race, with the nightmare scenario for the Blues of United winning the league that day beginning to look a possibility.
And for that, Owen believes the Red Devils' most experienced players deserve credit for guiding the club through their tricky run of fixtures from late January to early March.
"The lads have done fantastically well," he said. "We have got players and a manager who have done it many times before. People like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand have almost done it in their sleep."
Speaking at his Manor House Stables complex in Cheshire, where he launched a three-year partnership with Hale-based Trinity Elite, Owen said: "The nightmare is going into training every day, everyone seeing you, asking how you are getting on and how far you are off, then you toddle off into the gym and they toddle off the other way to train. It is hard. You feel as if you are not playing any part."