England striker Michael Owen is expected to start for Newcastle United for the first time in almost five months when they play Birmingham City on Saturday.

Owen’s return from injury is a huge boost for England’s manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is due to name his squad for Germany next month.

The 26-year-old broke a metatarsal on December 31. He had further surgery on his foot last month, prompting speculation that he might not be fit for this summer’s World Cup.

“I’ve been training since Monday and it has been really good, much better than I thought,” Owen told the Newcastle website.

“I was worried that I would have a bit of pain the more I played but it has been great.

“I haven’t spoken to the manager (Glenn Roeder) in detail yet but I think it would probably be sensible, after being out for just under five months, to gradually give me maybe 20 minutes on Saturday and then more in the next game.

“With a muscle I suppose you can go at half-pace to protect it but with a bone it’s either not healed or it’s okay, so on the first day I was doing sliding tackles and it has been fine,” added Owen.

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