Michael Owen’s faint hopes of making England’s World Cup squad are over after the Manchester United striker was ruled out for the rest of the season because of a hamstring injury.
Owen pulled up with the injury shortly after scoring United’s equalizer in Sunday’s 2-1 League Cup final win over Aston Villa at Wembley.
"It’s a bad blow," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "Unfortunately, it’s more serious than we thought. He will be operated on on Monday morning. It’s a terrible blow for the lad and is disappointing news for us too.
"He has never missed a training session all season. I think the heavy pitch at Wembley on Sunday made some contribution to it but, really it is just bad luck."
Owen made the last of his 89 England appearances against France in March 2008 and described himself as a "long shot" to make the World Cup squad.
England coach Fabio Capello had said that if the 30-year-old forward played regularly for United, he could get the chance to add to his 40 international goals with a recall.
Owen played at the past three World Cups and is the only player to score in four major tournaments for England.
But he has started just five Premier League matches since his surprise free transfer from Newcastle to United in the offseason.
"I have loved every minute of my first campaign with Manchester United and have already enjoyed some memorable moments," Owen said. "I am determined to come back at the start of next season in peak condition."