The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Houllier tips 30 plus goals for Owen

Liverpool: Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier says he never doubted Michael Owen’s return to form and is predicting another goal glut from the England international this season.

Owen scored a hattrick against Manchester City in a Premier League match on Saturday and will lead the attack as Liverppol try to kickstart their Champions League campaign against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.

“Michael has been getting the chances in every game and should perhaps be the top goalscorer in the Premiership at the moment,” said Houllier on Tuesday.

“But he will be — you can bet everything that he will get between 20 and 30 goals this season. That’s a tip!”

Owen’s goals against Manchester City were his first in open play this season after he scored 38 in all competitions last time, but Houllier said he never considered leaving him out of the team. “Michael knew that everyone was supporting him during his barren spell — not least his manager,” Houllier said. “I was still playing him during that dry period and if I had no confidence in the boy, why would I do that'

“The fact he went on to score was not only a relief for him, but also for the whole team,” added Houllier. “They wanted him to score so badly and when it happened it freed the whole team up.”

Houllier expects defender Stephane Henchoz to recover from a hamstring injury in time to play in the home clash with Spartak, while Markus Babbel has returned to full training. Liverpool have only one point from their first two games but the Frenchman is confident of three points against the pointless Russians at Anfield.

“This is not a must-win situation — it’s a will-win situation!” he said.

“We know we have four games to play and we are confident that if we give our best in every game and play the same way we did against Basel we will win.

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