Newcastle's Ameobi unhappy with Owen critics

Shola Ameobi has hit out at critics of Newcastle teammate Michael Owen.

The England striker has found himself the centre of attention in recent months after being thrust into the club versus country debate over his latest return from injury.

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At the same time, he has had to deal with speculation that Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson could be ready to make a move for him in January, when he will have only 18 months left on his contract at St James' Park.

Owen has scored 10 times in 23 appearances for the Magpies during an injury-plagued 26 months on Tyneside, and Ameobi cannot understand why people still question him.

He told the Northern Echo: "It's fantastic for us to have Michael back in the side. He's a special guy.

"He has an ability to score goals that's rare in this day and age.

"People keep on knocking him down, but he continues to prove he's a world-class player.

"It's a shame that people keep on questioning him. Alan (Shearer) had it at times in his Newcastle career, and Michael's getting it these days.

"I just don't understand it. He's a world-class striker, and he's someone that Newcastle need to reach the heights we want to reach and realise our ambitions as a club.

"He has shown how much he wants to play for Newcastle - he has demonstrated his desire by coming back from his operation so quickly.

"He has shown a desire to be out there, not just for England but for Newcastle United, and the criticism he has had is unfair.

"He just shrugs it off, though. He's a strong enough character to do that."

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