Newcastle manager Sam Allardyce has admitted that England striker Michael Owen is likely to miss the start of the Premier League season with a thigh injury.
Owen, whose career on Tyneside has been beset by injuries, played just three times for the Magpies last term and has failed to respond to treatment on an injury that has wrecked his pre-season programme.
The 27-year-old now looks set to sit out United's season opener against Allardyce's former club Bolton next weekend, paving the way for new signing Alan Smith who has arrived for £6million from Manchester United.
Allardyce told the Daily Mail: 'It doesn't look as encouraging as we first thought.
'The tear in the muscle hasn't healed as quickly as we would like, so there's no point in making any rash decisions just to get him fit for the start of the season.
'It's about getting him 100% for playing matches on a regular basis. That's why it has been more disappointing for him that he's missed pre-season games more than training.
'He's done enough training to last him a lifetime.'
Meanwhile, Villarreal left-back Jose Enrique is set to join Newcastle.
The La Liga outfit have announced they have reached an agreement with the Magpies for the transfer of the Spain Under-21 international, with the deal only needing a few minor details to be ironed out before being completed.
The Spanish outfit said of the impending transfer of the 21-year-old in a statement on their website: 'We want to thank Jose Enrique for his contributions to the club and wish him much luck in his footballing career.'