Owen confident of increased United playing time

MICHAEL OWEN expects to be given plenty of chances to impress for Manchester United over the forthcoming months, after opening his account for the season with two goals in the Carling Cup at Scunthorpe on Wednesday night.

The former England striker netted twice in the second-half at Glanford Park as the defending champions progressed to the fourth round with a 5-2 win.

Prior to the game, Owen had managed only 46 minutes of action since the Community Shield in August, less than Mexican youngster Javier Hernandez, while it was Federico Macheda to whom boss Alex Ferguson turned with United level at 2-2 against Liverpool last weekend.

All three started at Scunthorpe in a team that showed 11 changes from the line-up that faced their bitter rivals, and it was Owen who made the biggest impact. Although Ferguson was not at the ground having chosen to watch next week’s Champions League opponents Valencia instead, the striker’s efforts did not go unnoticed.

Assistant manager Mike Phelan, placed in charge for the night, said: “Michael Owen did exceptionally well and showed what a top, top player he is. I thought he contributed to everything and he covered the ground extremely well.”

Owen’s future at Old Trafford has been called into question in recent weeks, with the striker reportedly unhappy at his lack of playing time. The 30-year-old, though, expects that to change now the season is in full swing.

He said: “It’s a difficult juggling act for the manager because he’s got young kids that he wants to bring through and learn a thing or two, then there’s players that have been injured coming back into the action and players that need the games that have been fit, so it’s par for the course at Manchester United.

“But it’s a bit false at the minute because there have been so few games.”

Owen netted the equaliser in United’s 2-1 win over Aston Villa in last season’s Carling Cup final but it was a bittersweet occasion as he picked up the hamstring injury that ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.

It was the striker’s third League Cup triumph after two victories with former club Liverpool, and his chances of a fourth success – and a third in a row for United – were boosted by defeats for Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City on Thursday night.

Owen added: “It’s been a good competition for me, and obviously Manchester United. Looking at the results, there’s a lot of big teams that have gone out so it’s a satisfying result for us.”


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