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Owen can keep us up, says Keegan

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan
Keegan was pleased with his new-look attack

Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan believes Michael Owen is the key to his side's Premier League survival hopes.

The England striker scored the Magpies' equaliser in their 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Birmingham on Monday.

"A lot of people have been questioning him because he is a big-name player but he won't stop scoring if you give him chances," said Keegan.

"I am delighted to have a player like Michael at the club. His leadership and work-rate have been fantastic."

Newcastle are four points above the drop zone after a run of 13 league games without a win.

Owen's goal against Birmingham was only his seventh of an injury-hit campaign but Keegan insists he has never had doubts about the 28-year-old.

We could have been in at half-time more than a goal up but their international players rolled up their sleeves in the second half and caused us some problems

Alex McLeish
Birmingham manager

"He is a clinical finisher and a very clever player," added Keegan. "Michael is top quality and a world-class player, make no mistake about that."

The Magpies started the game at St Andrews with Owen playing alongside Mark Viduka and Obafemi Martins and Keegan was pleased with how his new frontline performed.

"It went very well," he stated. "I asked Michael to play a bit deeper but he keeps the ball so well and has such great awareness that he could play anywhere.

"I told him that despite the fact he had to come deeper he would still get chances - and of course he did."

The draw means Keegan is still without a win in his second stint as Newcastle boss but he believes his players are starting to find some form.

"There were some really good performances in Newcastle shirts," he said. "I thought Geremi was outstanding and Nicky Butt and Joey Barton in midfield gave us a bit of an engine room.

"They all put in a shift and if they keep doing that we will be all right."

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish felt a draw was a fair result - and is another step towards safety.

"Newcastle deserved at least a point for their second half performance," he confirmed. "They went up a gear.

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"We could have been in at half-time more than a goal up but their international players rolled up their sleeves in the second half and caused us some problems.

"Owen, Viduka and Nicky Butt did really well for them and were very influential.

"The first half was good but the second half belonged to Newcastle.

"If we had won, it wouldn't have meant we would be safe and if we had lost, it wouldn't have meant we would be relegated.

"There are plenty of points to play for and it has taken us a point in the right direction."

see also
Given set to miss next six weeks
18 Mar 08 |  Newcastle United
Birmingham 1-1 Newcastle
17 Mar 08 |  Premier League
Monday's football photos
17 Mar 08 |  Football


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