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Toe Poke
By ESPN Staff

Toon chairman Mort hopeful on new Owen deal

Newcastle are hopeful of persuading Michael Owen to sign a new long-term contract with the club.

The England striker has persistently been linked with a move away from St James' Park since becoming United's record signing in the summer of 2005.

The 28-year-old's current deal expires next summer and the club are determined to avoid the £17million man walking away as a free agent.

Chairman Chris Mort believes Newcastle's recent turnaround in fortunes under Kevin Keegan will convince Owen to extend his stay on Tyneside.

'I think all the players are enjoying playing under Kevin - you can see that in the way they play,' Mort said.

'I would imagine Michael was in that camp as well.

'He seems to be enjoying his game. He has got his contract this year and next year but it obviously makes sense to sit down with Michael and secure him for the long term if we can.

'I know that Kevin is very fond of Michael so I would hope that we could sit down and do something.'

Owen is enjoying arguably the best spell of his injury-blighted Newcastle career, having scored in his last four Barclays Premier League outings.

Doubts over his future resurfaced when the club failed to win any of Keegan's first nine games in charge but with the spectre of relegation now well and truly banished, there is more optimism he may elect to stay on.

Whatever decision he makes must be taken soon, as his transfer value will plummet when he enters the final year of his contract.

Owen will almost certainly require reassurance the club's ambitions match his own and he will be encouraged, therefore, by their summer transfer plans.

'We've had people looking at players througout Europe in recent months and there will certainly be players in,' Mort said.

'We've got a good-quality set of players already but we'll look to add to that in the summer.'

But Mort warned billionaire owner Mike Ashley would not be held to ransom over signings and refused to reveal whether any of the players linked with the club were on Keegan's shopping list.

'We're not going to do anything that isn't sensible for the long-term future of Newcastle United,' Mort said on Sky Sports News.

'We're a big club, we have funds available and we've got a great supporter base so we will help Kevin but we're not going to do anything silly.

'I'm not going to comment on any names.

'We'll sit down with the manager and work out with him who we should go after.

'Everything we've done with the club, we've looked to take a medium to long-term view. So we're going to look to bring in players who are going to be at Newcastle for a long time.'