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Premier League

Shearer tells Newcastle players to keep the faith

Newcastle United's interim manager Alan Shearer has urged his players not to lose faith and become despondent in their desperate battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

With four matches to play – the first a daunting trip to title-chasing Liverpool on Sunday – Newcastle are in the drop zone in 18th place, three points behind Hull City in 17th.

"We can't get our heads down. There's still a lot of work to be done and we're still in there fighting," Shearer said. "There'll certainly be no despondency and no one will be giving up the fight. We will go to Anfield in good spirits and see what we get. Obviously we go there as underdogs but we must believe we can get something."

Shearer, without a win in four games since taking charge, has pinned much of his faith on striker Michael Owen rediscovering his scoring touch after nine games without a goal, and Owen said his goals can still keep Newcastle up. Following the 0-0 draw with Portsmouth on Monday, Owen said: "I wake up and know where I stand in terms of performances, my standing in the game, the goals I will score given the opportunities and everything else. I have been around a long time and everyone knows if I get chances I will score. We understand the criticism we've received for where we are in the table, but we also know for a fact we are a better team than we are showing on a regular basis.

"We have to be brave and positive. We go to Liverpool and we finish the season at Aston Villa, and if we can get some points from those games we'll grasp them. But it's the next home games against Middlesbrough and Fulham that are the major focus."