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Owen: One step at a time for Andros
Michael Owen believes Andros Townsend will be an automatic selection for England's decisive World Cup qualifier against Poland on Tuesday - but cautioned against the 22-year-old looking too far ahead.
Townsend enjoyed an outstanding debut, picking up man-of-the-match honours and also scoring a memorable goal in a 4-1 win against Montenegro at Wembley on Friday.
That victory leaves England knowing victory this week will book a place at next summer's World Cup without the need for a hazardous play-off, with Townsend now tipped to make Roy Hodgson's final 23-man squad.
However, Owen feels it is unwise to look too far beyond Tuesday, when he is sure the Tottenham man will play.
"Certainly he is an automatic selection for the next match," Owen told BBC Radio Five's Sportsweek programme.
"Andros has been playing particularly well for Tottenham and there had been a couple of injuries to Theo Walcott and the like so the place was up for grabs.
"It was no surprise to me that he played.
"We needed to score goals and we needed to win the game.
"He is quick, exciting and direct and he can beat a man. It was a very good move from Roy Hodgson to play him.
"But there are so many big gaps between games. You might play fantastically well one day, then be poor in the next and your place is under scrutiny.
"Yes, a good game normally gets you a place in the next team but that is as far as it goes."
With Danny Welbeck on the left and Wayne Rooney supporting Daniel Sturridge through the middle, Owen was more enthused by England's attacking options than he has been for some considerable time.
And the eventual manner of victory confirmed Owen's belief that, inside the dressing room at least, England will harbour genuine hopes of making a positive impact in Brazil should they confirm their passage on Tuesday.
"One game doesn't mean we will have a shot at winning it but it was a positive result and a positive performance," the 33-year-old former England striker said.
"There is a lot to be taken from that. There is a lot of excitement around.
"At international level you need pace and someone who is going to unlock a defence in tight games. We have got that now.
"It doesn't make us World Cup contenders but it does gives us belief we can hurt a few teams now."
With Ukraine finishing their Group H programme against San Marino, victory is essential against a Poland side who have now been eliminated from the competition.
Some feel that will make them even more dangerous opponents, with Robert Lewandowski and company able to play with an increased freedom to excite what is set to be a massive away support at Wembley.
Owen can see that argument - but he also feels it will take away the additional hunger than ensures England will complete their quest successfully.
"It is an awkward one," he said. "I would say it will help us. When you are in the trenches, when you still need to qualify, you might go one step further for the cause.
"Poland will enjoy the occasion. Not every player gets to play at Wembley, but they will meet a hungry team, on a real high after the performance the other night.
"England expect to reach the World Cup and I expect us to win pretty comfortably."