Owen will need time to recover form, insists Allardyce

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Michael Owen will start for Newcastle United against Barnsley this evening looking for his first goal at St James' Park since September 2005. The England striker is being eased back into first-team action following a pre-season thigh strain and Sam Allardyce yesterday repeated that Owen may not be back to his sharpest for "a few months".

"I've no doubt in my mind," Allardyce said, "if he stays injury free then in the space of a few months he'll gradually start improving game in, game out and the goals and confidence will start to flow from there.

"We all hope and keep our fingers crossed that we've seen the last of his re-occurring injury problems. This one wasn't quite so serious but we had to make sure the thigh problem was 100 per cent because the one before that was a very serious one which took a long time to overcome.

"Injuries as serious as that change peoples lives. You can see the dangers you face each week playing football."

Allardyce, who is still hopeful of signing Bolton's Abdoulaye Faye, said Jose Enrique, signed from Villareal for £6.5m, will make his debut against Barnsley.

Newcastle will not be asked to apologise for their fans' berating of Middlesbrough's new Egyptian striker Mido on Sunday. Gareth Southgate, the Boro manager defused the situation yesterday by saying: "I don't think its necessary.

"I don't think a club can always take responsibility for the actions of their supporters. I don't think there was a lot of intent.

"In the cold light of day I'm sure people who did it would realise it wasn't the cleverest thing but you have to accept people in a group get carried along. It wasn't the right message but we and Mido, want a line drawn under it. It was an experience we didn't enjoy but he's handled it very well.

"All players accept that when they go on the field of they will be ridiculed and people will try to goad them.

"But there is a line and that line was crossed at the weekend. Mido is a human being and he reacted. But I am very much in his corner."

Southgate is to sign another Egyptian, Mohamed Shawky, after a successful trial. The midfielder is an international colleague of Mido's.