No Newcastle guarantees for Owen

Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce has warned Michael Owen he faces a battle with Obafemi Martins for a starting place this season.

Allardyce is loath to guarantee starting spots to any of his squad and Mark Viduka's arrival could well see a few noses put out of joint at St James' Park.

It is expected the former Boro ace will lead the Magpies' line, with Owen or Martins set to play alongside him.

"Oba was the main man last year because Michael was kept out with injuries, but they will be fighting with each other for a place this season," Allardyce told the Daily Mirror.

"We can also use a bit of squad rotation and have competition for places, which is what you need for your frontmen.

"Unfortunately for Michael, this thigh injury has taken longer than we thought to get better and missing pre-season is a big blow for him and us."