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Shay/Owen/Drago updates

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Shay/Owen/Drago updates


Given suffers injury setback


Aug 8 2007


by Luke Edwards, The Journal



SHAY Given will miss the start of the season after being sent to see a specialist yesterday to assess the extent of the damage to his groin.


Goalkeeper Given was forced off with the problem in the first half of the 1-0 friendly win over Sampdoria last weekend and manager Sam Allardyce confirmed last night the Republic of Ireland international will be forced to miss the curtain-raiser at Bolton Wanderers this weekend.


The 31-year-old has been troubled by groin problems ever since he suffered an horrific stomach injury against West Ham last September and, while this is only a slight strain, Allardyce is not taking any chances with his number one shot-stopper.


“He has gone to see a specialist in London because we want to make sure just how much damage has been done,” said Allardyce, who will not recall youngster Tim Krul from his loan spell at Falkirk at this stage.


“He has been for a scan and it doesn’t look serious, it’s just a slight strain. At the moment we only expect him to be out for a couple of weeks, but we won’t take any risks.


“We’re happy with the initial diagnosis, but we have just sent him away to get a second opinion. He has had a few injuries of this kind recently and we want to make certain there are not going to be any side effects down the line.


“It doesn’t look as though it is going to keep him out for very long, so we won’t look to bring in another goalkeeper as cover at this stage.


“If the situation has changed after he has seen the specialist, and he is going to be missing for longer than we first thought, we might have to bring another keeper into the squad because we’ll be a bit short.” However, like his predecessors in the manager’s chair at Newcastle, Allardyce believes that, in Steve Harper, he has got one of the best back-up goalkeepers in the Premier League.


Harper has already played his fair share of pre-season football and Allardyce has no concerns about playing him against Bolton.


He added: “We are very fortunate to have two excellent goalkeepers here and we have no problem at all with playing Steve at the weekend. He has already shown that he is more than just an able deputy for Shay.”


However, Allardyce was unable to say when Michael Owen will return to training, although he is hoping the England striker will be back by the end of next week at the latest. He said: “Michael isn’t back in full training yet because of his thigh injury and I don’t know exactly when he will be, but hopefully it will be next week.”


Meanwhile, United transfer target Ivica Dragutinovic has insisted he will sign a new contract with Seville after rejecting a move to Tyneside.


Allardyce has persistently denied that he is interested in the Serbian international, although the player suggested last week that he was close to signing for the Magpies.


That, though, appears to have changed, with the 31-year-old centre back suggesting yesterday that he is ready to sign an extension with the Uefa Cup holders.


He said: “My family and I have enjoyed very much these two extraordinary years with Seville and now, in addition, I want to play in the Champions League. We have still got a few things to discuss and will make an announcement on Thursday or Friday.”




Edwards contradicts what Anal has been reporting over the last few days about Drago.

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Owen still a concern to Sam


Aug 8 2007


by Luke Edwards, The Journal



SAM Allardyce has revealed that Michael Owen has proven to be his biggest cause for concern since he became Newcastle United manager.


Owen is expected to return to training next week, but the club’s record signing is well short of match fitness and is likely to miss at least the first two weeks of the new Premiership season as a result.


The England international picked up a thigh strain during a shooting exercise last month and, although initially expected to return within a matter of days, the striker has missed virtually all of Newcastle’s pre-season fixtures.


That has been a big blow to Allardyce, who had made the return to peak form of his star player one of his main priorities and had hoped to use United’s friendlies to help the former Liverpool and Real Madrid star regain full match sharpness.


As a result, having arrived as United manager fretting over whether the £16.5m signing would remain at the club following the emergence of a £12m get out clause in his contract, the thigh injury has been a major source of frustration for both of them.


“When I arrived one of the biggest worries was not knowing about Michael’s future, but since then the biggest frustration has been his niggling injuries,” said Allardyce, who has arguably one of the strongest forward lines ever assembled at St James’s Park this season at his disposal.


“He is still game short, not just in terms of pre-season, but all of last season as well. He has not played much football at all recently.


“I was actually thinking the games he played at international level at the start of the summer were very useful for him because they gave him game time. I think the same about England’s friendly against Germany if he is fit to play in that. For him not being able to play in pre-season is frustrating for him and bitterly disappointing for us. He desperately needed those games, but unfortunately this thigh injury has taken longer than we thought to get better.


“It must be terrible for him because he was really looking forward to getting involved with the lads again during the pre-season games. He has done plenty of training when he has been


recovering from the injury, it isn’t training he is lacking, it is games and missing pre-season is a big blow for him and us.”


Owen will not feature at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and is unlikely to be involved against Aston Villa the following weekend as Allardyce feels he is well short of match fitness.


Not that the manager’s selection decision’s will be made much easier with new signings Alan Smith and Mark Viduka competing with last season’s top goalscorer Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi for a starting berth at the Reebok Stadium.


Allardyce added: “I’m very happy with the five strikers I’ve got. I think four is the minimum you go into a new season with and we have got a good variety. We can also use a bit of squad rotation and have competition for places, which is what you need for your frontmen.


“Oba was the main man last year because Michael was kept out with injuries, but they will be fighting with each other for a place in the side this season. Perhaps even the pair of them will play together with one of the big men on occasions as well.”


Despite a few injury setbacks during United’s pre-season fixtures, which included the broken foot suffered by Joey Barton at Carlisle, Allardyce has been pleased with how things have gone, particularly in terms of taking a close look at some of the club’s Academy players.


He added: The players who have played in pre-season, who might not have done so in the past, have done a terrific job. It has given me a look at some of the less-established players and that has been very good for me as I don’t take too much notice of the results in pre-season games.”



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“Oba was the main man last year because Michael was kept out with injuries, but they will be fighting with each other for a place in the side this season. Perhaps even the pair of them will play together with one of the big men on occasions as well.”


interesting. looks like viduka will be first choice with either owen or martins alongside him or both if we go for a 4-3-3.

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