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By ESPN Staff

No approach for Martins, insists Big Sam

Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce insists he has had no approach for striker Obafemi Martins as speculation mounts over his future.

The 22-year-old Nigeria international has been the subject of repeated speculation throughout the summer since it emerged he has a £13million buy-out clause in his contract at St James' Park.

Martins has been tipped as a possible target for Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson if he decides to find cover for the injured Wayne Rooney.

However, Allardyce confirmed today there have as yet been no offers for the player, who scored 17 goals last season following his £10million arrival from Inter Milan.

The 52-year-old said: 'There has been speculation about Obafemi Martins every week since I have been here, and he is still at Newcastle.

'I have had no contact from any football club, either in this country or any other country wanting to activate Obafemi Martins' clause.

'Oba is still a Newcastle United player and the only way he will not be a Newcastle United player is if somebody activates that clause, and nobody has.'

Martins is one of four senior strikers currently on the Tyneside club's books with Michael Owen back from a thigh injury and Mark Viduka and Shola Ameobi also competing for places in the starting line-up.

Glenn Roeder's signing made an immediate impact under new boss Allardyce with a double in the 3-1 opening weekend victory at Bolton and has previously committed himself to the club after being linked with Arsenal and Valencia during the close-season.

Allardyce knows he could struggle to keep all four men happy this season, and any offer which activated the escape clause would provide the Magpies with a healthy profit on their investment in the Nigerian.

Meanwhile, keeper Steve Harper has hailed Owen for his fortitude following his most recent return to fitness.

The England striker was used as a second-half substitute in Saturday's 0-0 draw with Aston Villa and subsequently returned to international duty following his comeback from a thigh strain.

The 32-year-old said: 'It is great to see him back, he has had a dreadfully unlucky spell but he has kept his head down.

'Michael has worked his socks off to get back and it was great to see him back out there against Villa.

'We know Michael is 100% committed to the club and he has said nothing to any of us to the contrary. Michael is the ultimate professional. He works hard and does not cause any problems.

'He is also a top, top player. The sooner we can get him back out and firing on all cylinders the better.

'He is a down-to-earth player and it's great to see him back.'