ENGLAND: Michael Owen has warned Liverpool that they face a ''big summer'' to arrest the club's slide out of the Champions League.

Owen was at least able to take one considerable positive from the past season, missing just two games due to his well-documented hamstring problems. However, he is determined to ensure that Liverpool quickly recover their lost momentum, with new signings needed.

''It's not been the greatest of seasons on the league front, nor in Europe,'' Owen admitted after the club finished fifth in the Premiership and went out of the Champions League after the first group stage.

''We did win the Worthington Cup but we had set our sights much higher than that and, overall, it's been a disappointing season.

''Hopefully it will get better next year. It's a really important summer for the club. We have never performed to our capabilities.''

Owen has previously indicated his desire to stay at Anfield for at least the next two seasons, but he is determined to ensure that the club become genuine title contenders in that time.

''Whether the players who played have to improve next season or whether we need to bring players in, it remains to be seen what the manager does. But it's certainly a big summer,'' he added.

The England striker, in Durban ahead of tomorrow's friendly against South Africa, added: ''I think I've ended up with 28 goals for Liverpool and that's the joint best that I've ever done.

"But the main thing is that I'd set this season as a stepping-stone for my fitness and I've missed just two games due to hamstring problems.''