Mac backs Owen and Robbo

England chief confident ahead of qualifying double-header

By Alex Dunn.   Last Updated: 10/10/07 7:11am

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McClaren: Owen fan

McClaren: Owen fan

Sky Bet

A relaxed Steve McClaren declared himself to be impressed by Michael Owen's form in training, while continuing to back his beleaguered goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

The England coach was talking at a press conference, live on Sky Sports News, and appeared confident ahead of Saturday's Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia.

Owen has made remarkable progress from a double bout of surgery and having played and scored for Newcastle at the weekend, just eight days after going under the knife, he is now firmly in McClaren's thoughts.

McClaren went on to categorically reject the suggestion that a club-versus-country row is simmering with Newcastle.

"He was very sharp. All the players did (look sharp) considering they had played (at the weekend) but I was very impressed with him," he told Sky Sports News.

"People talk of a conflict between Newcastle, Michael and ourselves. Nothing further from the truth. We liaise with the medical people at the club, Big Sam and with the player. No risk will be taken on the player but Michael is a very big player for us. And if Michael is fit then Michael will play.

Likely starter

"He's with England now, we'll liaise with Newcastle, but he's with England.

"We'll asses him and if he's fit, then he'll play. Ultimately we don't take risks with players. It is the players' welfare we have at heart. But he's important for England - anyone put in my position would want a fit Michael Owen playing."

Tottenham goalkeeper Robinson has endured a miserable slump in form in the past month but McClaren insists he harbours no doubts over his No.1.

"He has never let us down and Paul Robinson is in."

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