Kevin Keegan expects Michael Owen to prove he can star for England after ending Premier League goal drought.
Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan expects Michael Owen to prove he can star for England coach Fabio Capello after ending his Premier League goal drought.
The 28-year-old striker scored his first league goal since October in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough and looked more dangerous than he has much of the season.
Although Owen is still short of peak form, Capello will be encouarged by the predatory way he took his 60th minute header at St James' Park.
Capello had resisted calls to leave Owen out of his squad for Wednesday's friendly against Switzerland and could decide to partner the former Liverpool star with Wayne Rooney at Wembley.
Keegan has no doubts that Owen can be a key figure in Capello's plans as the Italian builds a team for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
"Have you seen his goal record for England? 88 games, 40 goals. It's incredible," Keegan said.
"He is fit, he is very fit now. Because he has not scored in the games for which I have been here, big names make big stories.
"Michael has worked really hard today, but also in all the games since I have been here, and I don't think people have given him the credit for that.
"I have said publicly I don't think we have supplied him with enough chances, and that's the truth. If I as a manager am saying it, it is what we are thinking as a team.
"I wouldn't worry about Michael Owen. He will get goals, he always has and he always will, if you give him some chances."
While Owen's fifth goal of the season was encouraging for Keegan, the Newcastle manager is still waiting for his first win since returning to the club last month.
Keegan had to settle for a point after Middlesbrough defender Robert Huth headed an 87th-minute equaliser, although he claimed the goal should have ruled offside.
Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate could have been celebrating a victory as Stewart Downing hit the post with a free-kick in stoppage time.
He was still happy enough with a point and said: "We had some cracking chances to go into the lead, and were then clearly disappointed with the goal we conceded.
"The character we showed to bounce back from that and again create any number of further chances, I think we deserved the goal we got at the end."
Southgate hopes club record signing Afonso Alves, who joined from Heerenveen last week, will be available to add a cutting edge to his team soon, but the Brazilian forward's his work permit application is still not resolved.
Alves may have to queue up at the British Embassy in Amsterdam on Monday to secure an interview for the working visa he needs before he can return to England.
"The situation is that he had to go online to try to get an appointment at the British Embassy in Amsterdam, and their computers were down on Friday, so he has just got to queue up with everybody else now," Southgate said.
"We hope we will have him in the country by Tuesday or Wednesday."