Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Skipper Will Miss Final Warm-Up; Owen to Face Champions without Pre-Season Action

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

United Skipper Will Miss Final Warm-Up; Owen to Face Champions without Pre-Season Action

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

ON the night Newcastle United got back to goal-scoring ways, Kevin Keegan revealed the team will have to wait a little longer to welcome back their leading goalgetter.

The Magpies manager confirmed Michael Owen's first run-out since May will come against Manchester United on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Owen sat out the 2-2 draw with PSV Eindhoven and afterwards Keegan revealed that his captain will not face Valencia in Saturday's final pre-season match either.

When asked if Owen and Obafemi Martins would figure at the weekend, Keegan confirmed only the latter would play. "Oba definitely at this stage because he trained today," he said last night. "But I think Michael's first game for us will probably be against Man United.

"He's not had a setback but he only had two days of pre-season before he got a slight pull on his calf so he's got to put in some work. If we throw him in without that groundwork he will pick up other injuries."

United had to do without a senior striker last night, James Milner and Damien Duff forming a makeshift front two. But they still managed two goals, Steven Taylor and Danny Guthrie finding the net in the first ten minutes. With so few forward options, Keegan is in no mood to grant Everton their wish of signing ankle injury victim Alan Smith.

"I don't think so," he replied when asked if there was any truth in the rumour Smith would be heading to Goodison Park. "He's a smashing lad, very, very popular at the club and he can play a lot of positions, so he's a valuable player for us. "Alan's got a sore ankle.

I can't treat him any differently to anyone else. I brought players off every time they got a knock or the doctors or the physio came to me. I haven't risked anybody and it's given me a chance to give other people a bit of time."

Last night's match was watched by Steve McMahon, a director of the Singapore-based Profitable Group, who were last week linked with a possible takeover of the club. Instead, they are forging a commercial tie-up with the Magpies to promote the club in the lucrative Far East market. …

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