Souness to let Owen determine timetable for comeback

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The Independent Online

The Newcastle manager, Graeme Souness, will leave Michael Owen to decide when he is ready to come back from his broken foot. The Scot hopes his £17m striker may resume training within a fortnight but accepts it could be up to eight weeks before he is fit again.

"He had his boot off yesterday," said Souness, who was preparing for tonight's Premiership trip to Manchester City, "and he was having another scan this morning, and then it's just a case of stepping up his training. But we have not put a time on it, because the best one to decide that would be Michael, on how his foot feels.

"The recovery period is still, I think, anywhere between six and 12 weeks - six weeks would mean he is ready in a fortnight. But 12 weeks would be a long, long time away. I don't want to think about that."

Owen, 26, suffered the injury during a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham on 31 December. Souness - who has come under intense pressure in the absence of his most important signing- saw Scott Parker, Emre and Shola Ameobi return to action in Saturday's 2-0 FA Cup fourth-round win at Cheltenham.

The manager's lot finally seems to be improving, although freezing temperatures in the North-east this week have hampered his efforts to get the midfielder Kieron Dyer back in action.

The 27-year-old trained on Monday after managing just three appearances this season because of hamstring and health problems.

Tonight's match will come too soon for him, with frozen training pitches having limited the work he has been able to do, but he could return against Portsmouth on Saturday.

"This weather has hurt Kieron a wee bit. We hoped he was going to have a really hard week of training this week, but with the pitches frozen, that's been limited," said Souness.

"We are hoping Kieron can be on the bench against Portsmouth. But a lot can happen between now and Saturday. I'm sitting here with everything crossed."

Newcastle head for the City of Manchester Stadium in search of a first Premiership victory in six attempts and knowing that City, who lost 1-0 at St James' Park in September to Owen's goal, will provide stern opposition.

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