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By ESPN Staff

Owen doubtful for return against hapless Rams

Michael Owen is rated only at 50-50 to return for Newcastle when they face Derby in the Premier League on Sunday.

The 28-year-old has not featured for the Magpies since suffering a thigh injury playing in an England friendly against Austria last month.

Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce had originally pencilled Owen in for the Rams clash, but is keen to tread carefully with four games to come over the Christmas and New Year period.

'Hopefully Michael is going to get back into some form of training this week, and Derby might still be a bit soon, but we'll keep our fingers crossed,' Allardyce told the Newcastle Chronicle.

'Certainly, we would hope to have Steven Taylor and possibly Abdoulaye Faye and Stephen Carr back.

'We'll try to get them into training as quickly as we can, because the games are coming thick and fast.'