Owen planning to delay surgery on hernia problem

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The Independent Football

Newcastle will nurse Michael Owen through his current hernia problems for as long as possible but the striker is still expected to require an operation at some point this season on his groin area.

The Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce has insisted that substituting Owen after 55 minutes of Monday's 1-0 defeat to Derby County was just "precautionary" – however, his problems are not expected to just go away. Owen may yet play in Sunday's game against West Ham but he will require treatment at some point.

As revealed in yesterday's Independent, the striker is still a doubt for England's two crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Estonia on 13 October and Russia in Moscow four days' later. The question remains how long he can continue to play with the injury without undergoing the fairly simple procedure that alleviates the hernia problem.

Current medical techniques mean that hernia sufferers can – in the best case scenario – return to action within three weeks of the operation. However, in the meantime the condition can be alleviated with anti-inflammatory drugs. The usual advice is that at some point the hernia has to be dealt with through surgery.

Owen has struggled with injuries over the two seasons previous to this one. He missed four months with a broken metatarsal – sustained against Tottenham on New Year's Eve 2005 – in the second half of the 2005-2006 season. Then against Sweden at the World Cup in June he ruptured a cruciate ligament and did not play at all last season until April.

After scoring twice against Russia last week, Owen is clearly a central part of Steve McClaren's plans and he would be loath for the striker to have any kind of operation which would – at the very least – rule him out of the two matches next month. England need to beat Estonia at Wembley and secure a point against Russia at the Luzhniki stadium to ensure that a draw against Croatia in November will see them qualify for Euro 2008.

On Saturday, McClaren lost Emile Heskey for two months after the Wigan striker sustained a broken metatarsal. However, Wayne Rooney is expected to play some part tonight for Manchester United against Sporting Lisbon for the first time since 12 August when he sustained a hairline fracture to his left foot in the season's opening game against Reading.

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