Owen denies quit rumours

LONDON: England and Newcastle striker Michael Owen has strenuously denied he is set to retire at the end of the season.

Owen, 29, has not scored since January and was substituted against Middlesbrough last week with the score at 1-1 before Newcastle ran out 3-1 winners to move out the Premier League's bottom three.

Earlier Friday the Daily Express newspaper reported that Owen was set to quit the game in the summer and become a full-time racehorse trainer and owner.

Owen is out of contract at St James' Park at the end of the season and the club's temporary manager, Alan Shearer, has admitted he does not know where the striker will be playing next season.

Meanwhile, Owen was quick to refute the newspaper's claims.

"Any suggestion or unfounded speculation that Michael Owen has any intention of quitting football is totally untrue and wrong," said a statement from Owen's management company Wasserman Media Group.

"Michael remains as committed to his football career as he ever has been and is deeply and professionally offended that anyone should suggest otherwise."

The statement continued: "Michael Owen has instructed lawyers and will take action against any publication which he feels inaccurately or unfairly suggested he is quitting football and is damaging to his professional reputation."

The Daily Express subsequently changed their later-edition back pages to lead on how Owen is keen to continue.

Speaking later on Friday, Shearer rubbished the reports and insisted Owen still has a future at the highest level, even if he may not remain at St James' Park.

"He doesn't need it, doesn't deserve it. The stories that are out this morning are totally ludicrous and totally untrue as far as he's concerned, and he has laughed them off," Shearer said.

"But Michael Owen is a big-name player and sometimes will attract headlines.

"I am 100 percent certain he will have a future in the Premier League.

"But as to where that will be, here or elsewhere, that's for a discussion at the end of the season."

Owen will be in the squad for Saturday's home game against Fulham and Shearer challenged the striker to show he still deserved a place in the team.

"He has to go out and score goals. The player has always got the last opportunity to go out and do the business on the football pitch," Shearer said.

"He always has the chance to have the last laugh. My mind will never change with Michael Owen - if you give him chances, eventually he will score goals, I have no doubt about that."