Owen: I'll never quit England

Michael Owen is England's fifth top scorer with 40 goals from 89 caps. Photo: PA

Michael Owen has insisted he would "never" give up hope of an England recall.

Owen's Three Lions career looks to be all but over, with the striker having not played for his country for four-and-a-half years.

But the man who is England's fifth top scorer with 40 goals from 89 caps had no intention of announcing his international retirement.

"I'd never do that, really," said the Stoke striker, who has not started a first-team match for almost a year.

"But I certainly don't go to bed thinking I'm going to be playing for England again.

"It would mean that I would need to get back on the pitch and rediscover my deadly goalscoring touch and everything else."

Owen was eager to resume his international career, despite claiming there was "a long list" of England players who were paralysed by fear when when turning out for their country.

The 32-year-old revealed he knew of former team-mates who were scared stiff of criticism of their performances and of being jeered by their own fans.

Speaking at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge, Owen said: "I've heard many people in the past leading up to England games, or after England games, talking about what the papers are going to say the next day about them, or how they're going to get booed.

"It's a very intense feeling playing for your country and I don't think people can express themselves, or I don't think people do express themselves, as well as they can or they do at club level.

"At that level, you feel loved, the fans are on your side, you're used to playing with the players week in, week out.

"All of a sudden, you go away with England and it's a little bit, 'As long as I do all right', 'I don't want to be criticised so much'.

"There would be players out there who play equally as well for England - or any national team - as they do for their clubs.

"But there are a long list of players that you think, 'Why can't you play as well for England as you do for the clubs?'

"There's got to be a reason and I would say that fear certainly plays a part in that."

He added: "To the man in the street, it all looks very rosy. Everything looks pretty rosy about being a professional footballer in many ways.

"It ain't easy playing for England. The pressure of playing for England, the time spent away from your families, or whomever it might be, the tournaments.

"The fans would see you on a evening playing and then forget about you for the rest of the week.

"They're the times when you're sat in your hotel room staring at four white walls for 10 hours a day for about three or four days.

"It's a long, long stint and it's quite mentally draining."