Michael Owen: Going, Going, Gone—England Career Over?

Brian A. BradshawCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2009

NEWCASTLE, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 20:  Newcastle forward Michael Owen celebrates after scoring the first goal during the Barclays Premier League Match between Newcastle United and Sunderland at St James' Park on April 20, 2008 in Newcastle, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Most of today's tabloid back pages are bombarded with the news that Michael Owen has been overlooked to replace Emile Heskey for the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.

Opting for Tottenham forward Darren Bent instead, England coach Fabio Capello explained to the press that his side cannot live off past glories ahead of the crunch tie on Wednesday evening.

The Italian said: "I have to choose the players to play against Ukraine, not against history. Why didn't he (Owen) play longer in the last game? Because he was dropped. So I have to choose from the players in good form. I choose the best players who are in a very fantastic moment.

"If Michael Owen will play in the future three or four games, he will be with us. But you have to choose the players who've played a lot of games. It's impossible to choose one player that played only 20 minutes."

Considering Owen's injury problems, Capello has probably made the right decision, not just for England, but for the player himself.

Last week, Ledley King was called up to the Three Lions squad for the friendly against Slovakia. The defender is not free from injury concerns himself, with his knee problems well documented over the last few years.

Capello's remarks have sent shockwaves through the media, but is this because he is wrong, or are we all living in the past?

Owen is eight months short of his 30th birthday, he should be at his peak. Instead, with the injuries he's had in his time at Newcastle, one has to wonder how much longer his career will last.

His time with England has been historic. Owen has scored 40 goals in 89 appearances, the fourth highest goal tally in Three Lions history.

Nobody could ever doubt his commitment and dedication for England, he has served us well.

With that said, he can't carry the forward line for us on a regular basis anymore.

He can barely stay fit at club level, and must know that his next injury could be the one that ends his career. Whether we accept it or not, Michael Owen is walking on a very fine line. 

Fabio Capello cannot be criticised for his comments and decision. He's won silverware with four of the world's biggest clubs and managed some of the biggest names in football.

His experience and knowledge cannot be questioned. He knows this is for the benefit of Owen's career.

While this was the right decision, Owen is going to be a tough act to follow for England.

Capello now has to justify the decision by finding the player who will lead the forward line for us at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, should we get there. 

Capello is right, Michael Owen is the past. The big question now is; who is the future?