Newcastle United are ready to open new contract talks with Michael Owen this week.

The Times says Chris Mort, the Newcastle chairman, has expressed his desire to retain the 28-year-old, yet the club were reluctant to offer terms until their league status was settled. There is also a general desire to reduce the wage bill, an aspiration that does not sit comfortably with Owen's £115,000 weekly pay packet, although that is not expected to be a complicating factor.