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By ESPN Staff

Souness out to plug gap left by Owen injury

Graeme Souness is poised to ask for transfer funds this month to cope with the absence of Michael Owen as his Newcastle players blamed a 'curse' on the club for their latest injury setback.

Owen is set to be sidelined for up to three months with a fractured metatarsal bone in his right foot following a collision with Spurs keeper Paul Robinson during his side's 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane.

The striker has vowed to regain fitness in time for the World Cup finals, but the greatest impact will be on Newcastle rather than England as the Magpies attempt to cope in his absence.

Owen had scored seven goals in his nine appearances for Newcastle before the game at White Hart Lane, with Souness admitting his absence was a 'disaster' for the club, who are now stuck in mid-table.

The Newcastle boss has spent about £50million in the past 12 months, including not only £17million on Owen last summer, but also a further £21 million on Albert Luque, Scott Parker, Emre and Nolberto Solano.

That was on top of more than £10million in the last January transfer window on Jean Alain Boumsong, Amdy Faye and Celestine Babayaro, but Souness is still planning to ask chairman Freddy Shepherd to release more funds.

Asked about entering the January transfer market, Souness revealed: 'That's something we would like to do. Whether we can or not, we'll have to wait and see. Do I have money to spend? I don't know - ask the chairman.'

Souness is already without Emre, Kieron Dyer and Craig Moore due to long-term injuries, while he suffered a further blow with goalkeeper Shay Given suffering a suspected broken thumb in the final minute at Spurs.

Ahead of tomorrow's Tyne-Tees derby against Middlesbrough, full-back Peter Ramage also has an Achilles problem, Solano has a calf strain and Parker is not yet fully fit after returning from a knee injury.

Reserve keeper Steve Harper, who is set to replace Given, admitted: 'This place is cursed. Lee Clark and I were sitting there on the bench at White Hart Lane and we've both seen a lot at this club.

'There's a curse on this club and, if anyone can lift it, then feel free. With the luck we've had, we're just getting other people back from injury and then we've lost Michael to a bad one.'

Souness may have to sell first to raise funds, with speculation surrounding the futures of Lee Bowyer, Faye and Luque, who is ironically one of the few contenders - along with Shola Ameobi and Michael Chopra - to replace Owen.

Indeed, Owen's injury could not have come at a worse time for Newcastle, with the club having just suffered their eighth league defeat of the season to leave them down in 11th place and with defensive concerns as worrying as ever.

Assistant boss Alan Murray told BBC Radio 5 Live: 'We've not had anywhere near our full-strength team out on the pitch all season.

'We've had three or four first-choice players unavailable and you can't try and get into Europe or the Champions League without having your best players on the pitch.'

Souness already needed extra defensive cover, with his side's failings at the back once again exposed by Spurs, with Titus Bramble at fault for Teemu Tainio's opening goal just before half-time.

Babayaro was then caught out in the build-up to Mido's strike on 66 minutes, with Souness admitting: 'We conceded two goals due to individuals not doing their jobs properly.

'It's something we can work on, but you've got to be confident out there to take the responsibility when it comes your way. We didn't deal with that very well.

'It doesn't take its toll on me. I've been in the game a long time. There's a lot worse things that happen out there off the pitch. But obviously it's a dark day for us, given what's happened to Michael.

'Even when you're not playing particularly well, you feel that you can win games with Michael in your team. I can't tell you how big a miss he will be. It's an absolute disaster for him and for us.'

Owen is, meanwhile, confident the injury will at least not affect his preparations for Germany this summer, when England face Trinidad and Tobago, Sweden and Paraguay in the group stages of the World Cup.

'It's disappointing but everyone gets their fair share of injuries and, if there's any consolation, I've got plenty of time before the World Cup,' he told Sky Sports.