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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 5, 2007

Martins free to play for Nigeria

Newcastle today insisted they have not refused to release striker Obafemi Martins for international duty with Nigeria.

The 22-year-old, who scored his 11th goal of the season for the Magpies on the 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Saturday, has been selected by his country for their friendly clash with Ghana at Brentford's Griffin Park tomorrow night.

Manager Glenn Roeder admitted last month he would ask his only recognised fit specialist striker if he could sit out the game with Michael Owen and Shola Ameobi out for the season.

However, the club today released a statement insisting £10million signing Martins is free to play for his country amid suggestions they have prevented him from joining up with his compatriots.

The statement said: 'Newcastle United wishes to make it clear that the club has not refused Obafemi Martins permission to join up with the Nigerian squad for their friendly game with Ghana this week.

'The club has written to the Nigerian FA to make that clear.'

Meanwhile, Martins' room-mate Emre has vowed once again to clear his name after joining up with the Turkey squad ahead of his country's friendly against Georgia.

After his arrival in Istanbul, the 26-year-old, who faces an FA charge of using racially-aggravated words and/or behaviour during his club's 3-0 defeat at Everton on December 30, spoke to television station 24.

He said: 'We have prepared a good defence. I hope the decision will go in my favour.

'I am completely innocent. There is nothing to bother my conscience.'

The former Galatasaray and Inter Milan star, who was charged after angry exchanges with Tim Howard, Joleon Lescott and Joseph Yobo, had received support in his fight from Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UEFA vice-president Senes Erzik, TFF president Haluk Ulusoy and national coach Fatih Terim.

Emre has formally denied the charge and requested a personal hearing.

He faces a lengthy ban and a heavy fine if convicted, and has admitted the disciplinary panel's decision could have a major bearing on his future on Tyneside.

Emre, who has missed Newcastle's last six games with a calf injury, said: 'I want to continue my football life in Europe. But if I am punished for this, I cannot know what I will be like psychologically.

'Then, I may think of returning back to Turkey. But I have no such thoughts when everything is going very well for me.'