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Time to Bench Owen?

England's uninspiring 1-0 victory over Paraguay has the nation's pundits out in full force, mulling over all possible reasons why England's enormously talented squad continue to under-perform on the big stage. ESPN Soccernet columnist Richard Jolly blames a combination of Sven Goran Eriksson's cautious tactics and the fading potency of Michael Owen, once England's undisputed top striker. As Jolly says, Sven has a history of defending such automatic selections as Owen and David Beckham regardless of their form. While Becks seems to have bounced back from a few years of ineffective displays, Owen is now in a similar position. He hasn't been playing regular club soccer over the last few years: going from Real Madrid bench-warmer last year to an injury-plagued season at Newcastle this season. You could count the number of times he had the ball at his feet yesterday on one hand, and while Peter Crouch wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders either, he was looking for the ball, at least. While the defensive substitutions were standard fare from the Swedehe certainly knows how to kill a game off tacticallythe call from Jolly and others is to replace Owen once Wayne Rooney proves himself fit, leaving the lanky Crouch to play the role of out and out striker.

Read the whole story at ESPN Soccernet »

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