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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Allardyce dismisses Owen dispute
England boss Steve McClaren (left) and Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce
McClaren (left) says he is liaising with Allardyce

Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce has joined England coach Steve McClaren in dismissing claims they are in dispute over striker Michael Owen.

The 27-year-old returned for Newcastle only last Sunday after surgery and Allardyce is worried about Owen playing in England's Euro 2008 qualifiers.

But Allardyce said: "People are just trying to get between me and Michael."

And McClaren has insisted "nothing is further from the truth" regarding talk of a conflict between all parties.

Allardyce added: "The same has happened with Steven Gerrard and Rafa Benitez at Liverpool earlier this year - it's a common theme during the international breaks.

"For me as manager, I have 14 players away on international duty representing their countries, and for each and every one of them, all I can do is keep my fingers crossed they come back fit and well."

McClaren said there had been constant liaison with Allardyce and the medical staff over Owen's fitness.

"No risk will be taken but Michael is a very important player to us and if Michael is fit, Michael will play," he said.

I trust Paul Robinson. I wouldn't play him otherwise

England coach Steve McClaren

The striker had surgery on his stomach and an abductor muscle nine days ago but came on as a substitute and scored as Newcastle beat Everton 3-2 at the weekend.

He could play against Estonia on Saturday and in Russia the following Wednesday, having scored three goals in wins over Israel and Russia last month.

The surgeon who carried out Owen's surgery, Dr Ulrike Muschaweck, insists the risk of further injury is minuscule.

"The only thing stopping a quick return can be some pain which will keep the player off the field for some further days. The risk of the injury re-occurring is 0.1%," she said.

606: DEBATE

McClaren retained Paul Robinson for the games in Tel Aviv and Wembley and, despite concerns over the keeper's form, the England boss will keep faith with the Spurs stopper.

"He has never let us down and Paul Robinson is in.

"Sometimes players go through a bad spell and have bad games but you have got to have belief and faith and trust in your squads," said McClaren.

"Everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes but ultimately it is my decision. I trust Paul Robinson. I wouldn't play him otherwise."

Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard is back after a thigh injury and made his comeback in his side's win over Bolton.

He is vying to replace Gareth Barry, who was one of England's most impressive performers against Israel and Russia, as Steven Gerrard's partner in central midfield.

I want to see again the performance, the English style of playing, high tempo, front foot mentality and that gets the crowd behind us

Steve McClaren
England are second in the group and just two points ahead of Russia.

"You want your best players available for big games like this and make no bones about it these are big games," said McClaren.

"We have put ourselves in pole position, it's up to us to make sure we do the business on Saturday, get the three points and then move on.

"He (Lampard) has been a great servant. I think he was our man of the match against Germany (in a friendly) but unfortunately he has not played since then.

"But he comes back in, he's had 90 minutes and he's looking good in training and we'll see how he is."

McClaren said he wanted the team to play in the same style they used when they beat Russia and Israel last month to put their qualifying campaign back on track.

"I want to see again the performance, the English style of playing, high tempo, front foot mentality and that gets the crowd behind us," he said.

"We showed against Israel and Russia that teams struggle to handle us when we play games like that and we have to do the same again. That is the standard we have to try and attain every time we go out and play.

"We have the same determination to get the same two results as last time."



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