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Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has told Michael Owen to confirm his commitment to the club and warned him none of the ‘big four’ clubs want to buy him.

Shepherd is angry after reports claimed Owen, who has played only 13 games since joining Newcastle for £17m in 2005, could leave in a cut-price deal this summer.

“Michael has two choices: he can come out and tell our fans that he is happy here,” Shepherd told the Daily Express.

“Or I tell him none of the big four are interested. Because that’s the case.”

Newspaper reports claimed Owen has a buy out clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for as little as £9m and the discount price had alerted the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

But Shepherd continued: “These suggestions will not impress our fans after what has happened in the last couple of years.

“This report was a very thinly-disguised attempt to flog Owen from under our feet, sourced very close to the player or those who look after him. The information must have come from there, not from our club.”

Owen arrived at St James’ Park in 2005 but played only 11 games in his first season before breaking a bone in his foot. He recovered his fitness in time for last summer’s World Cup where he suffered a serious knee injury which caused him to miss most of this season.

“The loyalty this club has shown him over the last two years, when he had injury problems in his first season and had missed virtually all of this season, deserves something in return,” said Shepherd.

“He has had a really serious injury and no-one, least of all one of the biggest clubs, is likely to take a risk at this stage.

“He has to prove to everyone, himself and Newcastle United included, that he is fully recovered and not about to break down again.”

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