Hernia expert urges Owen to go under the knife
Newcastle striker Michael Owen could be back on the field within 14 days of undergoing hernia surgery.
That is the view of Dudley Rogg, clinic director of the British Hernia Centre, as the debate over the player's fitness rumbles on.
Magpies boss Sam Allardyce insists Owen, who was sent for a scan on Tuesday after limping off at Derby the previous evening, does not have a problem.
However, that has not stopped mounting speculation that he will require an operation sooner rather than later, and with both his club and England in desperate need of his services, that would come as a blow.
But Rogg is confident that if Owen did undergo surgery now, he would be back in business in plenty of time to figure in his country's vital Euro 2008 qualifier against Estonia on October 13 and the potentially crucial trip to Russia four days later.
He said: 'With the modern treatment now available, we have footballers back on the pitch within 14 days experiencing no further problems.
'Unless Sam Allardyce delays the surgery - which will not only put Michael Owen at serious risk of making his hernia worse, but experiencing recurring problems - our experience suggests he should easily be fighting fit for England's next European qualifier against Estonia on October 13.'
Allardyce has vociferously denied suggestions that Owen needs the operation and is hopeful he can line up against West Ham at St James' Park on Sunday.
He said: 'We sent him for a scan as a precaution. But the result is he's absolutely fine and will be fit to play on Sunday.'
Newcastle could do without their £17million man disappearing back into the treatment room - he has already undergone four operations in his two years on Tyneside, two on his fractured metatarsal and two on the knee he damaged during last summer's World Cup finals.
Five goals in four games for club and country since his return to action from a minor thigh strain have illustrated his continuing potency, and helped to rekindle dreams of tangible success on Tyneside.
Former team-mate Alan Shearer can now only look on as his home-town club sets out on the trophy trail once again, but he remains as hungry as ever for success.
Shearer, speaking at a signing session for his new book, Alan Shearer, My Illustrated Career, said: 'I hope they do (win a trophy). I'm hoping and praying that happens sooner rather than later.
'I really believe they have a chance of doing that. Sam needs time to get his ideas across. I am sure he will be given that and hopefully, they will be successful.
'Taking Monday night away (Newcastle lost 1-0 at Derby), it's been a very positive start.
'It's a new era for the club, a lot of new players, and it will take time.
'I don't think there's a lot out there, to be honest, for them to beat, but realistically, maybe seventh or eighth and then give them time and I'm sure they will kick on from there.'