Owen pondering Newcastle offer

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Michael Owen was today mulling over the offer of a new deal at Newcastle after the club made its move.

It is understood the Magpies have contacted Owen's representatives with details of their latest contract offer as his existing four-year deal enters its final few months.

Manager Joe Kinnear hopes to sit down with the 29-year-old tomorrow in an attempt to persuade him that his future lies at St James' Park.

Kinnear has already insisted the England international will not be sold next month, with his goals more important than whatever fee they could collect for a player who could leave on a Bosman free transfer at the end of the season.

However, like Kevin Keegan before him, the 61-year-old is desperate for Owen to commit himself to an extended stay on Tyneside.

Kinnear admitted on Friday that he was not confident about retaining the services of a man whose ninth goal in 15 appearances this season set his side on the way to a vital 3-0 Barclays Premier League win at Portsmouth yesterday.

That took him to 29 in 62 games for Newcastle over three-and-a-half injury-hit years.

The Magpies claimed to have offered Owen an "improved" three-year deal back in August, although that came as news to his representatives.

This time, the terms have been formally presented after Kinnear was given the go-ahead by owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias.

Owen was giving little indication of which way he will jump after leading his side to victory at Fratton Park, preferring instead to concentrate on their fight for survival.

He said: "We are looking up and have moved up a few positions.

"Like most teams, we have a few games over Christmas. This is the best time to gain a bit of confidence.

"If we can keep that run going we will be clear of relegation over Christmas and wondering what all the fuss was about."

Owen, who joined for £17million from Real Madrid in August 2005, has always insisted he has enjoyed his time in the north east despite the serious injuries - including a fractured metatarsal and a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament - which have seriously hampered him.

However, his fall from grace on the international stage, where new England boss Fabio Capello has decided he can do without him for now, has come as a major blow.

The Italian has repeatedly claimed the door is not closed on a man who is fourth in the all-time list of goalscorers for his country, and the quality of his finish against Pompey in a game which saw Capello selections Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch misfire, provided further evidence of his return to fitness and form.

Owen, however, was typically diplomatic when he was asked about the pair.

He said: "Defoe and Crouch is a good partnership. They are both international players and they are the classic little and large partnership.

"Myself and Oba [Martins] have played a lot of international games as well, though.

"There was plenty on show at Portsmouth, but thankfully it was us who ran out with the three goals."

Kinnear hopes to tie up not only Owen, but also Nicky Butt, Steve Harper and Shola Ameobi over the next day or so before turning his attention to the transfer window.