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Owen a worry for big kick-off

 

Aug 1 2007

 

by Alan Oliver, Evening Chronicle

 

 

MICHAEL OWEN is fighting a race against time to be in the Newcastle United opener with Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium a week on Saturday.

 

The England striker’s thigh injury is proving a bit slow to heal and it’s not the news Sam Allardyce wants to hear as he prepares to return to his former stamping ground.

 

Big Sam told me last Wednesday that he expected Owen and Shola Ameobi to play some part against Celtic at St James’ Park on Thursday night.

 

But neither did, and neither of the two strikers were involved against Juventus on Sunday.

 

There is a chance that Ameobi, who has had a bit of back trouble, will play some part in tonight’s friendly at Hull City, but it would be a surprise if Owen is on the bus.

 

 

All this leaves is Sunday’s friendly with Sampdoria at St James’ Park, and as things stand, three of United’s main four-man strike force of Owen, Ameobi and Mark Viduka have only managed 90 minutes of football among them in pre-season, with the exception being Oba Martins who has looked quite lively.

 

This was in the first friendly at Hartlepool when Owen and Ameobi played in the second half – and looked good together.

 

Viduka is now training with United but he does not expect to be involved at Hull City tonight.

 

It’s not the sort of preparations Allardyce wanted, with midfielders Joey Barton, Emre, Nicky Butt and Damien Duff all queuing to get into the treatment room along with the likes of Owen and Ameobi and central defender Steven Taylor.

 

Viduka’s Asian Cup exploits were out of Big Sam’s hands, and so too is the fact that Kieron Dyer who, as revealed in The Chronicle a week past Thursday, is on his way to West Ham.

 

As a result it will not be a strong squad which will head for Hull City and big Sam’s former No 2 Phil Brown tonight.

 

Olly Wolly

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I have to say, back when he first got the thigh injury and they thought he'd maybe be back for Celtic and definitely for Juve, i was deep down awaiting the words: "But the injury is taking longer than at first thought" or something similar. Its just the sort of shit that happens to this club.

 

Luckilly i think Martins will be in good form to start the season as he's been looking quite lively and Viduka should be up to speed as he's been playing competitive football.

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