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“Michael’s contribution on Saturday doesn’t go un-noticed – it was a fantastic goal,” he said. “He’s fit and his training performances have been terrific ever since he joined us.”

- Sir Alex
29/09/2010 08:00, Report by Nick Coppack in Valencia

Getting better all the time

Michael Owen has become a better footballer since joining Manchester United, according to Reds boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Owen, who’s played at Liverpool, Real Madrid and Newcastle, arrived at Old Trafford in summer 2009 with a reputation as one of English football’s finest finishers. In his pomp, he frightened defences all over Europe and even won the coveted Ballon d'Or in 2001.

United’s striking department is one of the strongest around, however, and Owen, now 30, has had to be content with making an impact off the bench: 24 of his 37 United appearances have come as a substitute. But while Owen may not be a fixture in Sir Alex’s starting XI, the Reds boss believes he’s getting better all the time. “He’s an outstanding footballer and I think he’s improved since he’s come to our club.”

Owen's latest act of heroism came at the Reebok Stadium last Sunday, when a glancing header helped rescue a valuable point. Even so, Sir Alex was playing his cards close to his chest in Valencia when asked if Owen would start against the Spanish side.

“Michael’s contribution on Saturday doesn’t go un-noticed – it was a fantastic goal,” he said. “He’s fit and his training performances have been terrific ever since he joined us.”

Dimitar Berbatov is expected to get the nod should Sir Alex adopt a 4-5-1 formation, but Owen could well feature from the first whistle – Federico Macheda and Javier Hernandez are the only other strikers on the trip – should the boss elect to employ a two-pronged attack.

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