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Owen happy on the bench

Michael Owen has no intention of leaving Manchester United in the summer, despite his lack of first-team opportunities this season, with the former England international maintaining he would rather be “playing a lesser role” at a leading club than holding down a regular place in a struggling Premier League team.

Owen made only his 11th start in a United shirt in the Carling Cup final against Aston Villa on Sunday, when he scored the equaliser before succumbing to a hamstring strain in front of the watching Fabio Capello. The striker might well have had more chances to impress the England manager had he joined another club but Owen insisted he has no regrets about his decision to move to Old Trafford and pointed to Wayne Rooney’s irrepressible form as a legitimate reason for spending so much time on the substitutes’ bench.

“I’d like to play a lot more, obviously, but you try getting into the team with Wayne Rooney playing like this,” said Owen, who is expected to be sidelined for a couple of weeks. “We’ve had 44 games this season and I’ve been involved in 42 of them. I’ve only missed one game. Everyone was talking about my injuries before I came and the risks I would get more. No one had been writing that for a good while, but, unfortunately [against Villa], I’ve had to come off the field again.”

Asked about the prospect of spending another frustrating season at Old Trafford which could well lead to more time on the sidelines, Owen said: “I’ve played for teams that haven’t been doing well in the league and I’d prefer to be playing a lesser role, but training every day with real top-quality players. I want to improve my game and, when I do play, be involved in games like [the Carling Cup final].

“It has been a different season because there hasn’t been any injuries to our strikers,” Owen said. “[But] I’ve played my part in many games and although I’d like to have played more, I’m sure that I would have done in different circumstances. If Wayne hadn’t been scoring two or three goals in games, the manager might have rotated more. If there had been one or two injuries, he might have rotated more. But there’s no way that I’m unhappy about how things have gone or my decision to come here. I’m absolutely delighted.”