No Owen rift - Kinnear

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Newcastle boss Joe Kinnear insisted there was no rift between himself and captain Michael Owen.

Kinnear opted to use the England striker only as a substitute in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Wigan, despite the 28-year-old's assertion in his programme notes that he has been fit after a groin injury for a couple of weeks. However, Owen also described Kinnear's decision to re-introduce him gradually as "fine".

Kinnear said: "People are trying to put a wedge between us for whatever reason."

He added: "Obviously, the fact is that Michael's concerned about his future and his contract. If I'm appointed, I will do something about it.

"And for what it's worth, I have said from day one that in my opinion, he should be in the England squad. That's my honest opinion.

"I feel for him because of the situation he finds himself in both for club and country, but he answered all that in the best possible way by coming off the bench and scoring for us on Saturday."

Owen entered the fray 68 minutes into Saturday's game with his side trailing 1-0 to 10-man Wigan and looking unlikely to turn the game around.

He passed up a glorious opportunity within two minutes of his arrival, but made no mistake 10 minutes from time to claim his sixth goal in 11 appearances for the club this season.

Kinnear said: "I could have taken the easy option of playing him earlier when he was struggling for fitness, but had he broken down, what position would I have been in then?

"I could have taken the cheating option, if you like, given I'm only here for eight games, and put him in on my very first game even though he hadn't trained for a week. What would everyone had said if he'd broken down?"

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Michael Owen
Wigan Athletic

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