Michael Owen out for rest of season
Michael Owen has plunged Manchester United into a striker crisis after succumbing to a hamstring injury that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
The 30-year-old will undergo surgery on Monday after scans highlighted further damage than initially expected to the hamstring injury that forced Owen to limp out of last Sunday’s Carling Cup final win against Aston Villa.
With Danny Welbeck on loan at Preston and unable to cut short his season-long spell at Deepdale, Sir Alex Ferguson has just Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov available as senior strikers.
And with Rooney doubtful for tomorrow’s trip to Wolves with a knee injury and Berbatov struggling with a long-term knee problem, the negative Owen bulletin could not have come at a worse time for Manchester United.
It also all ends Owen's hopes of forcing his way into Fabio Capello's England squad for World Cup 2010.
Ferguson said: “We have had some bad news on the injury front with Michael Owen being ruled out for the season.
“The hamstring injury is more serious than we first thought, so he will have surgery on Monday.
“It’s a terrible blow for the lad and it is really disappointing for the team, too.
“Since he arrived from Newcastle last summer, Michael has never missed a training session.
“But I believe that playing on the heavy pitch at Wembley last week
contributed to the injury.
“It’s really bad luck for Michael, but he is out now until next season.”
Despite his reduced involvement at Old Trafford this season, Owen has scored crucial goals for United.
His injury-time winner against Manchester City last September and the equaliser against Villa at Wembley last week have proved to be genuine high-points.
And Ferguson admits that the former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward will be a real loss over the final weeks of the season.
He said: “Michael has been such an important player for us.
“Maybe I haven’t used him as much as I should have done, but that has largely been down to Rooney’s form.
“Wayne has been magnificent, but Michael has certainly made a contribution, he has been terrific around the dressing room and he has been a really good pro.
“This is the first hamstring injury he has had for four years, so it’s a real blow for him and us.”
Owen’s injury has been mitigated by the news that Owen Hargreaves could return for the reserves next Thursday after almost two years out with a double knee injury.
Ferguson said: “Owen has shown for the first time in recent days that he is almost ready to play.
“That’s great news and I have pencilled him in for a game next Thursday.”