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By ESPN Staff

Owen could be back this season - Roeder

Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder expects Michael Owen to return before the end of the season.

Owen suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury during the World Cup and has not figured in the current campaign, but Roeder revealed his rehabilitation is progressing ahead of schedule.

'Michael Owen has been out all week on the grass, running hard,' Roeder told Sportsweek on BBC Radio Five Live.

'He's working on getting back to full fitness. Michael is running very hard every day.

'He's much happier and there's a distinct possibility we'll get a few games out of him this year. We have to be positive and Michael believes he can play this season.

'We believe he can as well but if he can't it won't be a big crisis because we didn't think after the operation he would play again this year. But he's done so well.'

Roeder believes Newcastle, who are ninth in the Barclays Premiership and are still in the UEFA Cup, have acquitted themselves well this season given their lengthy injury list.

'For five months we've carried eight, nine, 10 senior players injured. I've never been able to put Michael Owen on my teamsheet,' he said.

'Considering that, and we don't have a big squad anyway, I think the boys have done incredibly well.

'We're out of the FA Cup so now the UEFA Cup becomes very important.'

Roeder agrees with Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger that FA Cup replays should be scrapped - and insists England friendlies should also be axed.

'FA Cup matches should be decided in one game. The sport has moved on,' he said.

'There are so many games to be played and I think the match should be decided by penalties if it's a draw after extra time.

'On international friendlies, I think England play too many. It's a much better idea to get together for training.

'They could have some serious practice and (England coach) Steve McClaren could get his ideas across.

'A lot of these friendlies are meaningless and a lot of players who have many caps think that as well.'