Owen stalling over new contract

The Newcastle striker Michael Owen will take his time as he considers the club's new contract offer. The 29-year-old's representatives received details of the Magpies' proposed terms on Monday and are still working their way through the paperwork. There has been no formal response from the Owen camp, although sources close to the England international striker have insisted he has not rejected the new deal.

Newcastle's manager, Joe Kinnear, admitted last week he was not confident of persuading Owen, who is out of contract at the end of the season, to extend his stay at St James' Park, despite the club offering what he considered "an excellent contract, considering what is happening around all football clubs".

That has not lessened his desire to retain the services of a man who scored his ninth goal of the season in Sunday's 3-0 Premier League victory at Portsmouth. That view is shared by the men who know best what he brings to the team, with the midfielder Danny Guthrie in little doubt as to his team-mate's quality. He said: "Owen is massive – you saw that at the weekend. One chance, one goal. You need those players."

Owen will be able to speak to other clubs next month, with half a dozen having already been linked with a January bid for him. Kinnear is adamant he will not be sold during the transfer window with Newcastle's top-flight status far from assured and his goals perhaps their best chance of climbing the table.

He would, of course, be able to leave on a Bosman free transfer at the end of the season, but cashing in on him now could prove a false economy with the owner, Mike Ashley, still trying to sell the club.

Owen is one of a series of senior players whose existing contracts run out in June, and Kinnear is also keen to tie up their futures. The midfielder Nicky Butt has indicated he is ready to sign, while Shola Ameobi and Steve Harper are considering their options.

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