Fabio Capello has confirmed Owen Hargreaves could still have a role to play with England.
Hargreaves’ move to Manchester City was the shock of transfer deadline day.
Now 30, the midfielder has barely played for three seasons after operations to try and cure a chronic tendinitis complaint.
Sir Alex Ferguson could see no future for Hargreaves at Manchester United and Hargreaves was forced to resort to a YouTube presentation in an effort to prove his fitness. Yet, much like Michael Owen two years previously, unconventional tactics worked, with Roberto Mancini showing enough faith in Hargreaves to offer him a one-year contract.
Now Capello has weighed in, confirming a player who won the last of his 42 caps against the United States in May 2008 could yet have an international future.
“I hope he will be fit,” said the England boss.
“He was an important player for England. When he played he did really well.
“Then he had a knee problem and didn’t play.
“I hope he will be really good in a short time, for Manchester City and the national team.”
Meanwhile, Capello is convinced Wayne Rooney’s hat-trick against Arsenal last week can provide the perfect medicine for an end to his international goal drought.
England’s number one striker heads into tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia with just one goal to his name in two years.
It is a quite staggering statistic, taking in, as it does, not only the barren year from March 2010 when Rooney’s form dipped dramatically, but also the period beforehand which launched his best campaign, which brought him 34 goals for Manchester United.
“Goals are a fantastic medicine for a forward,” said Capello. “Now is a good moment for him. The spirit of Manchester United is different. Those young players have put something different on the pitch.”
Stuart Pearce’s latest batch of England Under-21 hopefuls took their first step towards the next European Championship last night with a 6-0 victory over Azerbaijan.
Man of the match Henri Lansbury scored twice and there was a debut brace for Craig Dawson, while new captain Jordan Henderson and substitute Martyn Waghorn also netted.