Owen issued pitch warning

O'Connor reveals concern over surface

Owen: Pitch concern

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Michael Owen has been warned not to gamble with his fitness on the artificial surface in Moscow.

England take on Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday in their Euro 2008 Group E qualifier with Owen expected to lead the attack just days after undergoing surgery on a hernia problem.

Owen has already made a goalscoring return off the bench for Newcastle and is tipped to start for Steve McClaren's side against Estonia at Wembley on Saturday.

But Birmingham striker Garry O'Connor, who has first-hand experience of the Luzhniki surface from his time with Lokomotiv Moscow, insists the pitch can be unforgiving on the body.

Risk

He told The Sun: "If I was Michael Owen I would not want to risk anything on that pitch.

"It used to hurt me for three or four days after I'd played on it. I would really ache because it's just not a natural surface.

"It really messes with your body. So, if anyone is a doubt with a muscle injury, they could be in trouble."

And former Russia captain Alexey Smertin also revealed his concerns over the synthetic surface.

Dangerous

The Fulham midfielder told The Mirror: "I've played on that pitch. What's it like? Rubbish. I played there two or three times last year with Dynamo Moscow, my previous team, and it's not so good, to be honest.

"It's quite dangerous because it's different, your feet stick and you can't turn quickly and you can't turn properly as you run.

"We have a good opportunity to get some points because we're playing on the plastic pitch. The Russian players are used to it.

"The ball does bounce a funny way and it depends, for example, if the pitch is slippery. Then the ball goes very quickly. If it's not, it's very slow."