England striker Michael Owen has attempted to shore up support for under-fire coach Sven Goran Eriksson, by insisting the players must share the blame for Wednesday’s shock 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland.

Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has come under agttack in the press following the defeat but Owen says the players must also face the music.

“The manager, the players and the staff are all in it together,” said Owen.

“If the manager gets stick it’s due in no small part to the players. We didn’t perform well enough.

“We take collective responsibility for the performance and now we have to show collective togetherness, stick tight and put it right in the next two games,” he said.

“Hopefully we will get the chance to put it right in the last two qualifiers. It’s still in our hands to win the group. Hopefully that will make up for Wednesday night.

“Often the biggest test is when the chips are down and you’ve got to stick together.

“That’s how we felt after the game. We feel the hurt collectively and we all said we don’t want this feeling again.”

Owen admitted “so many different things” had gone wrong for England.

“After half an hour to think we were so in control of the game it normally takes a goal against or a sending-off to rattle your cage and for us to play so badly after that,” he added.

“Nothing happened though, and we just started playing not so well, not so well, and so on.

“We should have been pressing for the equaliser but they had as many chances as us in the last five minutes. It was a poor performance and it wasn’t good enough.

“It was an unbelievable match and you’d like to think it couldn’t or wouldn’t happen again if you played them another dozen times. But you just don’t know in football.”