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Newcastle backing for under-fire Owen

Newcastle manager Alan Shearer will not dispense with the services of star striker Michael Owen as the season reaches crunch time.

However, amid speculation the former Liverpool and Real Madrid man could pay the price for his goal drought in Monday’s must-win Barclays Premier League clash with Portsmouth, Shearer’s assistant Iain Dowie has leapt to his defence.

He said: "Michael’s goal record stands up to scrutiny with anybody. He is used to this. People only talk about him when he doesn’t score.

"Michael has worked his socks off in all three games we have played. His work-rate is fantastic and he has covered so much ground.

"He’s doing all the things that are right and one thing is certain — if chances come his way, he scores."

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