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England striker Owen out of Croatia match

sports Updated: Nov 17, 2007 08:21 IST

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England striker Michael Owen has been ruled out of Wednesday's potentially crucial Euro 2008 Group E qualifier against Croatia at Wembley.

Owen pulled up with a thigh injury after shooting at goal 34 minutes into England's 1-0 friendly win over Austria on Friday and motioned to the bench to take him off.

"It's a massive blow," manager Steve McClaren told Sky Sports. "Injuries are part of football and unfortunately I do believe we'll need to win on Wednesday to qualify and we go in without two centre halves and two centre forwards."

England are already missing captain John Terry and forward Wayne Rooney because of injuries while central defender Rio Ferdinand is suspended for the Croatia match.

McClaren's men can only watch on Saturday when their group rivals Croatia and Russia face Macedonia and Israel respectively.

A draw for Croatia and a win for the Russians would effectively end England's qualifying hopes and make Wednesday's encounter with the group leaders all but meaningless.