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Newcastle captain Owen diagnosed with mumps

As a result the United skipper is behind the rest of his colleagues in the fitness stakes.

Owen told the Evening Chronicle: "When I pulled out of the England squad for the games with the United States and Trinidad and Tobago, everyone thought I had a virus.

"But it turned out that I had the mumps, and they would not let me go in case I infected any of the other England players.

"And while I would not say I was in a bad way it wasn't very pleasant at all.

"It did affect me for a while - I was quite ill and I was not allowed to do anything for four weeks.

"When I came back to Newcastle our doctor here worked out a programme for me and it has been a slightly different programme from the rest of the players.

"And instead of going straight into the deep end with the rest of the lads, we have just been making slow progress.

"That's why you did not see me at Hartlepool on Saturday and why I won't be out there at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.

"Perhaps I might get to play in one of the games in Majorca next weekend. But I should definitely be OK for our first home friendly with PSV Eindhoven on August 6."

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