Owen returns to full-scale Newcastle training

Newcastle striker Michael Owen could be unleashed on Barclays Premier League strugglers Derby as he nears a return to action.

The 27-year-old England international is expected to resume full training at the end of the week and while Saturday's trip to Fulham could come just too soon, manager Sam Allardyce is confident he will definitely ready by the time the bottom-of-the-table Rams head for St James' Park eight days later.

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Owen has not played since tearing a thigh muscle in his country's friendly victory over Austria last month, an injury which forced him out of the decisive Euro 2008 qualifier against Croatia.

Allardyce said: "After the way we came back on Saturday, I feel great.

"Now we are looking for more good news by getting some players back for Saturday's game with Fulham at Craven Cottage.

"I have arranged a behind-closed-doors game this week when we are hoping that the likes of Damien Duff, Abdoulaye Faye, Claudio Cacapa and Shola Ameobi will all play.

"Michael Owen will probably not play in it, but we are expecting him back with the rest of the first team squad nearer the end of the week.

"If Saturday will probably come too early for him, he should certainly be back for the game with Derby County at St James' Park a week on Sunday."

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