We will decide if Owen is fit, insists Allardyce

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The Independent Football

Sam Allardyce has warned that it will be Newcastle's medical staff rather than England's who will decide whether Michael Owen is fit for international duty. Owen's astonishingly rapid recovery after keyhole surgery has put him back in contention for England's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Estonia and Russia later this month.

The England striker has already started light training and could even play some part in Newcastle's home match against Everton on Sunday. It now looks odds-on that Steve McClaren will name the 27-year-old in his England squad tomorrow, but Allardyce insists it will be Newcastle who will take the final decision on Owen.

Allardyce said in his column in Zoo magazine: "A decision like that is taken by me, the club doctor, the head of sports medicine, the senior physiotherapist, the person who reads the scan and the specialist. The FA and Steve McClaren are not involved. It's a Newcastle United decision.

"There's no one more qualified than the staff at Newcastle to know what Michael's condition is and if and when we ought to be doing anything about it. My job is to get him fit to play for Newcastle. If he's fit for us, it means he will be fit for England." Owen was operated on last week by German specialist Dr Ulrike Muschaweck, who repaired an adductor muscle tear in his groin and a stomach weakness to prevent a hernia. She said Owen should be back to full fitness after "eight to 10 days, a maximum of 14".

Allardyce insisted Owen could not have continued without surgery. He added: "Despite the speculation, Michael couldn't have continued playing. He has a three-centimetre tear in the adductor muscle. The tear would have just got bigger had he done."

Meanwhile, Joey Barton is unlikely to make his Newcastle debut against Everton, the club he supported as a boy, despite playing for 45 minutes against Manchester City reserves last night. Barton, who has been out since the summer with a broken metatarsal, is aiming at the match against Tottenham on 22 October.

l Veteran defender Christian Dailly has been recalled by Scotland for this month's Euro 2008 qualifying Group B fixtures against Ukraine and Georgia. Dailly, on loan at Southampton from West Ham, has been named in a 24-man squad after the Sunderland defender Russell Anderson was ruled out because of a calf injury.

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