Owen lets goals make his World Cup case

MANCHESTER: Michael Owen insists he is happy to let his goals do the talking as he waits to find out whether his first Champions League hat-trick in six years caught the eye of England coach Fabio Capello.

The Italian has made it clear Owen will not be going to the World Cup finals next year unless he is playing and scoring regularly for United.

The chances of that happening have increased in the wake of Owen's three goals in the 3-1 win over German champions Wolfsburg on Tuesday, but the striker was reluctant to speculate publicly on his chances of forcing his way into Capello's plans.

"I have never liked talking about myself too much, I always prefer to talk about the team," the 29-year-old said after following up a header and a far-post tap-in with one of his trademark dinked finishes at the end of a break from the half-way line.

"It is nice to score a hat-trick and the last one was probably the best but you can't do something like that without the team playing really well," Owen added.

"A big credit must go out to the other lads, especially in defence given we had so many injuries."

Owen has scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England. But he has not been picked by Capello since the Italian's second game in charge, a 1-0 friendly defeat by France in Paris in March 2008.

With Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov ahead of him at United, he remains an outside bet to be one of the four strikers Capello plans to take to South Africa.

Rooney is an automatic choice and Capello has made it clear he regards Emile Heskey as the most effective partner for England's leading forward.

Provided they both remain fit and Heskey gets enough game time with Aston Villa, that leaves Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Darren Bent and possibly Owen and Gabriel Agbonlahor competing for the other two places.

Owen however is confident that he will get further chances to make his case to Capello.

"I am enjoying playing for Manchester United," he added. "There are only a few teams that you can play in and expect to get chances. This is one of them.

"Scoring them is a different matter. As everyone knows, scoring goals is probably the hardest thing to do in the game.

"But given the quality you are playing alongside and the amount of chances you do get, it is easier here than at most clubs."

Owen has now scored seven goals since his unexpected move to Old Trafford before the start of the season and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted with the most significant return yet on his decision to snap up the striker at the end of four injury-plagued years at Newcastle.

"Michael Owen is one of the best strikers in the last third of the field in terms of his movement, his positional play and also in terms of his finishing," Ferguson said.