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Newcastle's Owen: Israel cleared up injury pain

Michael Owen says the "pain and despair" of his latest injury evaporated as England's Euro 2008 hopes were resurrected.

Owen will miss Wednesday's final Group E qualifier against Croatia after tearing a thigh muscle in Friday's friendly win in Austria.

"My heart sank in the freezing air of Vienna on Friday but it soared as I sat at home in front of the television last night," Owen told the News of the World.

"Suddenly the pain and despair of picking up another injury in the friendly against Austria began to disappear as the outcome of the games in Israel and Macedonia began to unfold.

"Even though I will not be able to play against Croatia, the gateway to the Euro 2008 finals is open.

"Suddenly the world looks a brighter place.

"It looked pretty grim from where I was standing on Friday night.

"As soon as I planted my left foot beside the ball to line up a shot in the Austria game, I knew that I had torn a thigh muscle.

"The pain was instant and, even though I managed to get my shot away, I knew the game was over for me and so was all hope of playing against Croatia.

"It was more of a slow torture watching the Israel-Russia game last night but thankfully it all came out right for us in the end.

"No-one will be celebrating just yet because there is still a massive task ahead of us at Wembley but we have been thrown a lifeline that many think we do not deserve.

. "For England not to be involved in a major championship finals for the first time in my career would have been a bitter blow."

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