Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thigh and not so mighty

"Steve McClaren is a good friend of mine, but from our point of view this did not look to be a very important game and we've ended up losing one of our biggest players for several weeks". The words of Sam Allardyce after - surprise surprise - Michael Owen injured himself in the first half of Friday's pointless friendly against Austria. Is that a little frost I can see forming on that friendship, Sam?

Owen's thigh strain will keep him out for around six weeks, a blow to England, who could have done with him now that Wednesday's fixture against Croatia is once again meaningful, but (needless to say) more importantly for the club that pays his wages. The first Premiership match he'll miss is Saturday's encounter against Liverpool, and given our indifferent form of late (to be polite), we could have done with him sticking a couple past his old side.

The fact that Alan Smith was considered for the squad and made an appearance from the bench illustrates that McLaren really is utterly clueless.

Also on England duty over the weekend were James Milner and Steven Taylor, both very much fixtures in the England U21 side these days. Taylor captained the team, but it was Milner who shone brightest, crossing for Villa's Gabriel Agbonlahor to score the first and then slotting home a penalty for the decisive second against their Bulgarian counterparts. Good thing he scored from the spot, what with Theo Walcott throwing a temper tantrum at being overlooked for the job...

Elsewhere, David Rozehnal and Shay Given played for the Czech Republic and the Republic of Ireland respectively, while Emre captained Turkey to an away win in Norway, doing his bit by smashing home an equaliser.


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