Sven Goran Eriksson has refused to confirm whether Michael Owen will return to the starting line-up for England’s World Cup qualifier with Northern Ireland on Wednesday.

Owen, who was suspended for last Saturday’s win over Wales, is available, but Newcastle’s new £17m striker has yet to play a competitive game this season.

“If Michael is 100% fit then it’s no question he will play, if he performs as he’s done in the four years since I came to this job,” said Eriksson.

“What’s going to happen on Wednesday, let’s wait until Wednesday.”

Eriksson admitted that it would be difficult deciding who to leave out of his team if he recalled Owen.

“It’s always a difficult decision to take players out, especially when you won the last game, but that’s my job,” he said.

Eriksson is set to revert to a 4-4-2 to accommodate Owen against Wales, but would not would reveal his plans.

“I know the best formation, maybe the best formation we played was the diamond, or 4-4-2, but to play the diamond you need three central midfielders to be fit,” he said.

“Frank Lampard is not playing as well as he did last season. That is a little bit why we used the system (against Wales).

“I will not gamble. Normally the players will know how to play, last week they knew it from Wednesday, this time they will know if from this afternoon.”

Owen, 25, is expected to be recalled for the Windsor Park game.

“I’m confident of my position in the team and my value to it on recent and past performances,” the former Real Madrid striker said.

“I don’t think I’d be especially thankful if the manager played me. I don’t think I owe anyone any favours.

“The manager chooses the best 11 players. If I’m in that, I’m not going to sit around and think who might not be playing or should be playing,” the former Liverpool marksman insisted.