Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder is still hopeful that Michael Owen will play for the club this season.
Owen has yet to resume running after undergoing two operations to repair cruciate ligament damage he suffered at last summer’s World Cup finals, and there have been doubts as to whether the England striker will return to action this season.
“That is how it is going to be between now and the end of the season, different interpretations,” Roeder said on Friday in response to claims that Owen’s campaign is already over.
“That is why with someone like Michael Owen, it is best for us not to say ‘We believe he will be back on this specific date’.
“Because he is a world-renowned footballer, if he does not make that date, then all hell is let loose and he has had a setback.
“He wants to play as soon as he can, but Michael being Michael, he has also warned our supporters there is the potential that, if it got to the last couple of games and he still needed more strength work, he would probably sit them out.
“But I do not think his intentions are to do that. Michael’s motivations and intentions are to still play.”
Owen had suggested that he might miss Newcastle’s final games of the season, even if he is fit enough to start playing again.
“If I’m fit to play in the last one or two games of the season it might be wise to continue with my strength programme and maybe play a couple of games behind closed doors,” he said.
“I haven’t started running yet, that’s the next step and if it goes well then it’ll be onwards and upwards.
“No-one has said I can’t play this season and it gives me hope and belief. If I don’t it’ll be next season.
“The plan is to run in the next week or two. I could probably run now but when it is time to run I don’t want to be thinking twice about it.”