Fate has dealt Michael Owen, the Manchester United striker, another cruel hand as he was ruled out for the rest of the season. After scoring a superb goal in the Carling Cup final win against Aston Villa, he suffered a hamstring injury that has proved more serious than expected. Last weekend's contribution will be his last of the campaign. It will also end any lingering hope he may have had of gatecrashing England's World Cup squad.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said: "Michael has been such an important player for us and I know I have not used him as much as I should have. That is a lot to do with Wayne Rooney's form and our choice of playing one striker. He has been a little bit unfortunate with that." Owen will undergo an operation on Monday and tried to remain upbeat. "I am determined to come back at the start of next season in peak condition," he said.
With Rooney in a rich vein of form and Dimitar Berbatov looking sharp, United are well served in the goals department. But Ferguson will no doubt be concerned about the cover at his disposal. With Rooney struggling with a knee injury and the Champions League return leg against AC Milan on Wednesday, he is unlikely to be risked for the game at Wolves today. Mame Brame Diouf, the Senegal striker, could start as United aim to usurp Chelsea, who are in FA Cup action today, at the top of the Premier League.
Meanwhile at the other end of the table, Bolton, who are just two places above the drop zone, visit West Ham, who are only one point ahead of their struggling visitors. firstname.lastname@example.org