Sir Alex Ferguson has assured striker Michael Owen that he remains an important part of Manchester United's squad.

Owen started United's 3-1 Community Shield success over Chelsea, but did not feature in their Premier League season-opening victory over Newcastle United.

The former Newcastle, Real Madrid and Liverpool ace, who started just five league games last time around, is now into the final season of his two-year contract at Old Trafford.

There had been fears that Javier Hernandez's summer arrival could hinder Owen's chances even further, although the club's veteran Scottish manager insists he remains part of his plans, though thats a view not necessary shared by punters on the free betting websites.

"Michael has no worries about his situation," said Ferguson. "He is an important member of the first-team squad.

"The development our young players means we'll have about 30 players available. I am very comfortable with the situation."