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By ESPN Staff

Keegan makes Owen captain

Michael Owen will be handed the captain's armband on Saturday afternoon as Newcastle United boss Kevin Keegan attempts to draw a line under any conflict between the two men.

The striker revealed his disquiet at his relationship with Keegan during the 56-year-old's reign as England boss in his autobiography, and his words could have come back to haunt him this week.

But Keegan insisted as he was unveiled as Sam Allardyce's successor yesterday that, while he was shocked by Owen's comments, he had no problem with the club's £17million record signing.

Indeed, he will ask the 27-year-old to lead the team out against Bolton on Saturday as a new era in the club's history gets underway.

Keegan said: 'Not only will he play, I will make him captain. He is the right guy to lead us - and that tells you what I think of him.

'I know people will try to make something of the stuff in his book, but people who know me know it will not bother me - any more than it will bother me if it is right to bring Alan Shearer here as number two.

'Other people might say, 'He will be a threat to you'. It won't bother me.'

The possibility of Shearer following Keegan, the man who paid £15million for his services during the summer of 1996, back into St James' Park is still a realistic one after the new manager confirmed he would be making a call to the 37-year-old.

It remains to be seen whether there is a role for him at the club which will suit both men with Keegan admitting he will give the members of Allardyce's huge backroom staff a chance to prove their worth.

In the meantime, he will set about the task of reviving the club's Barclays Premier League fortunes having looked on appreciatively from the stands as they demolished Stoke 4-1 in Wednesday night's FA Cup third-round replay.

However, he will be under no illusions as to how difficult that could be, particularly this evening with three men - Emre, Alan Smith and Nicky Butt - suspended, and Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye, Geremi and Obafemi Martins away with their respective countries at the African Nations Cup.

When he announced his side to journalists for his first game in charge last time around against Bristol City, Keegan had only 10 names on his list, and he admitted things might be worse tonight.

He said with a smile: 'With the suspensions and people away, you might only get nine.

'I have done that a couple of times - I had 12 in once, and I couldn't get away with that either.

'It shows you how confident I was.'