Owen ready for weekend action with Newcastle


London : Striker Michael Owen has handed Newcastle United and England a huge boost after safely coming through an hour of a club friendly.

Support TwoCircles

The 27-year-old missed Newcastle’s opening day win at Bolton Wanderers with a thigh problem but has declared himself fit to play Saturday’s game against Aston Villa.

Owen told the club website Monday: “I feel fine, it was only a small injury.”

His return is a relief for England manager Steve McClaren, who must do without Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney for two months.

England has an Aug 22 friendly against Germany followed by the crucial Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel Sep 8 and Russia four days later.

Owen missed most of last season as he recovered from major knee surgery, and his bad luck appeared to be continuing when he was ruled out of the bulk of Newcastle’s pre-season games.

But he said: “I was confident I’d be fine and it was good to get back out there. It had me out for a couple of weeks but I’ve trained for the last four or five days.

“It’s a little frustrating to have missed some of the pre-season games but I’ve been able to do all the running work.”

Shola Ameobi scored both goals to help Newcastle reserves to a 2-0 win over local side Blue Star in a match that also saw a first appearance in club colours for Brazilian defender Claudio Cacapa.

Midfielder Kieron Dyer, who recently saw a transfer to West Ham United collapse at the 11th hour, also played the friendly.