Hughton backs Owen to save Magpies

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Chris Hughton is backing Newcastle skipper Michael Owen to fire the club to Barclays Premier League safety on his return from injury.

The 29-year-old England international has not played for the Magpies since the 2-1 defeat at Manchester City on January 28 and has missed the last five games with an ankle ligament injury.

During that period, Newcastle have slipped to within a point of the relegation zone and head into Saturday's trip to 14th-placed Hull in desperate need of a victory. Hughton said: "What you want, particularly at a time like now when we know we are going into the last phase of the season, you want as many of your big players around the squad as possible, and Michael is certainly one of those."

Owen is poised to make his comeback against the Tigers and a swift return to the form that has brought him 30 goals in 70 appearances for the club could hardly come at a better time.

Hughton added: "As our captain, Michael is arguably the biggest of the lot of them.

"His presence around the squad is always a plus but to actually have him available to play really is a boost for us going into the Hull game.

"For numerous teams between now and the end of the season, their ability to score goals will be crucial to where they end up.

"Michael isn't just one of the best strikers in the Premier League, he is one of the best strikers around anywhere. You have to look at his record.

"These have been tough times for Michael regarding injuries but the one thing that remains consistent is that, when he plays, he scores goals.

"That's testimony to the type of player he is."

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Manchester City
Michael Owen
Premier League
Newcastle United
Hull City

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