Newcastle's Allardyce admits Owen concerns

Sam Allardyce is worried that Michael Owen's recovery from his hernia operation could be hampered if he plays two games in four days for England.

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However, the England coach Steve McClaren will be forced to rely on his first-choice striker, especially as both Dean Ashton and Andy Johnson have been ruled out of the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Estonia on Saturday and Russia the following Wednesday.

"I don't know whether two games in such a short space of time is right, but it's not my decision, though I will speak to Steve [McClaren] about that," said Newcastle's boss Allardyce, after Owen came on as substitute and scored a decisive goal in Newcastle's 3-2 victory over Everton, just eight days after seeing specialist German surgeon Ulrike Muschaweck.

But Allardyce insisted that it's important not to rush the striker's recovery. "I have to be very protective - that's why I didn't start him," he added. "He's got to be eased back into it. It's been a terrific recovery from one of the best surgeons in the world. At the end of the day, I've tried to do what's best for the football club and Michael."

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