Owen will decide future at end of season

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The Independent Football

Michael Owen has told Newcastle he will not make a decision on his future until the end of the season.

However, the 29-year-old has ended speculation that he could leave Tyneside in January by committing himself to the club until the end of his current contract.

In a statement released on his behalf this evening, Owen also confirmed he had indicated he is willing to take a pay cut if he decides his future lies with the Magpies.

Owen said: "Following speculation about my future at Newcastle United, I have decided today to make it clear that I am committed to the club until at least the end of this season, and I have informed them I do not want to make a decision about my future until that time.

"I hope this will be seen as a positive step and not seen as being disloyal in any way.

"I am happy here and enjoy the challenge. It is simply a matter of seriously thinking about my future as I was 29 last week and my next career decision is a crucial one.

"My decision is not about money. I told the club some months ago that I would accept a reduction in my wages.

"I have no intention of leaving Newcastle United during the January transfer window and want to assure the fans that under Joe Kinnear's passionate management, I am committed with the rest of the players to ensure that the club ends the season on a high."

Owen's statement comes a day after Kinnear suggested his agent would hold talks with managing director Derek Llambias this week over the new deal he was offered seven days ago.

Speaking after yesterday's 2-1 Barclays Premier League win over Tottenham, in which the striker played, Kinnear said: "We have to sit down with Michael and the people who represent him and try to strike a deal.

"I don't think there is anything else we can do, we have both really got to agree on a number.

"As far as I have been informed, that's supposed to be in the next three or four days."

Owen's future has been a major topic of debate on Tyneside for the last year with former boss Kevin Keegan urging the board to tie him up in a new contract within weeks of his return to St James' Park in January.

Kinnear too has made no secret of his desire to retain the England international's services, and was given the go-ahead to open negotiations with him after being appointed manager until at least the end of the current campaign.

He insisted Owen would not be sold during the January transfer window, and if the club's position remains the same in the wake of Owen's announcement, they face the task of persuading him to accept the three-year offer on the table or losing their £17million signing on a Bosman free transfer during the summer.

Manchester City and Everton have been linked with moves for the former Liverpool and Real Madrid man next month, although his goals could yet play a significant role in Newcastle's ongoing fight for top-flight survival.

Owen has found the back of the net nine times in 16 appearances so far this season to take his tally to 29 in 63 outings in his injury-hit three and a half years on Tyneside to date.

However, he has been unable to force his way into England boss Fabio Capello's plans, and Newcastle's difficulties on and off the field have not aided his cause.

Kinnear initially admitted he was not confident of getting a positive answer from his star striker, but after sitting down with him last week, was hugely encouraged by his response.

But now he and the club will have to wait until the end of the season for their answer.