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   June 23, 2002 | 1850 IST


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Owen wasn't fit enough against Brazil

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England striker Michael Owen has admitted his groin injury prevented him from launching a serious examination of Brazil's defence in Friday's 2-1 World Cup quarter-final defeat.

"I know that when I'm 100 percent fit I can play well -- but it's a nightmare for me in these circumstances," Owen was quoted as saying in the News of the World on Sunday.

"If you take away the explosive side of my game and I can't do things at full pace then it does affect me."

Owen put England in front with a neatly-taken first-half goal before Brazil hit back through Rivaldo and Ronaldinho.

Owen said it had been a gamble to play after struggling to shake off the injury he picked up in England's 3-0 win over Denmark in the second round.

"I didn't train all week, except for the day before the Brazil game. I had a treatment every day for 11 hours," the Liverpool striker added.

"There was nothing torn. It was just a niggle but I could feel it as I went out to play against Brazil.

"I could run but I couldn't go flat-out. But it was a game I didn't want to miss. It's not everyday you are able to face Brazil in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

"... My big regret was that I wasn't able to go into this massive game in peak condition."

The 22-year-old said England could feel optimistic about their prospects at the next two World Cups as a talented young team grew in experience.

"I am hoping I will be able to play in at least two more World Cups and so will 90 percent of this team," he added.

"If the side develops with anything like a natural progression I don't see why we can't win it in the future.

"We'll be even better at the next World Cup, especially as it is being held in Germany where the conditions will be more suitable for us because they are more similar to what we are used to."

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