Michael Owen has admitted Javier Hernandez’s emergence at Manchester United has put him in the shade.
With his two-year contract due to expire in the summer, it is now anticipated Owen will be leaving Old Trafford, whether he helps the club to Premier League and Champions League glory or not.
And one of the reasons for that will be Hernandez’s stellar form since his arrival at Old Trafford as a virtual unknown from Mexican club side Chivas.
There are plenty who make a direct comparison between the 22-year-old’s rapid movement and Owen.
The former England striker is not convinced it is true of his early days. But in more recent times, Owen accepts there are obvious similarities.
‘I wouldn’t say he is similar to how I was in the early stages of my career,’ said Owen.
‘But with injuries and the way I have adapted my game, he is probably quite similar to what I do now, apart from he is a bit sharper.
‘He is 10 years younger of course, so maybe he is a better version of the current Michael Owen.
Fall guy: Hernandez’s fine form has restricted Owen to substitute appearances but the striker should have been awarded a penalty against Arsenal
‘Javier has been the surprise package this year without a doubt.
‘He is certainly sharp and is a cracking lad as well. That probably isn’t that important to the people who just want to see him scoring goals but it is important for those who are around him and at the club in general.’
Not that Owen has written off his own chances of making a contribution.
As a substitute at Arsenal on Sunday, he should have been awarded a penalty that could have brought United a precious point.
And, along with Dimitar Berbatov, the 31-year-old has already been promised a starting berth for Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final by Sir Alex Ferguson, as United look to defend their two goal advantage.
Big opportunity: Sir Alex Ferguson is set to start Owen in the Champions league semi-final second leg against Schalke at Old Trafford on Wednesday
‘Javier’s partnership with Wayne Rooney has really clicked,’ said Owen.
‘But let’s not forget that Dimitar is still our top scorer. He has only not been scoring lately because he has not been playing as much.
‘Overall, the strikers have dovetailed quite well. Everyone has chipped in at certain parts of the season.
‘Wayne almost carried us right the way through last season.
‘This year other people have come in to fill the void. It has been a great effort all round.’