Date: 18th May 2006 at 1:02pm
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Michael Owen has declared himself fit for England’s first group game against Paraguay, despite having just played 30 minutes for Newcastle United this year!

The 26-year-old, who has persistently complained about soreness in his foot since returning to training on Tyneside, has suddenly got a new lease of life in the England set up. Newcastle fans have seen precious little of Owen since he joined the club back in August, but his seven goals in 11 appearances shows what we have missed since he broke his foot in the New Year’s Eve match against Tottenham Hotspur.

Owen: ‘I’m feeling fine – and I have been fine for quite a while now. I have been training since the season finished, I have been training with no problems for a while now and I am excited about the World Cup.

‘We have three games to look forward to before we go to Germany but there are no doubts at all in my mind about being fit for the first game with Paraguay, no doubts at all. If there was a World Cup game tomorrow, I’d be in a fit condition to play. I feel fresh and raring to go. Maybe I have played fewer games than ideal going into the World Cup but before the last one everyone was saying we had played too many games.’

‘Of course, it’s a relief. But I’ve always been confident about being ready for the World Cup. I always knew where I stood. Of course, when I first broke it, I wanted to know how long I was going to be out. Then I had a little setback and wanted to know what was happening with that.

‘But that aside I’ve always been focused on getting back to training and playing. For two months at Newcastle, away from the cameras, I have been training and doing what everyone else has been doing for quite a while.’