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By ESPN Staff

Viduka grateful for Kinnear stability at Toon

Newcastle United striker Mark Viduka is backing Joe Kinnear to drag the club away from trouble after the uncertainty over his short-term future finally came to a close.

The 61-year-old was appointed Magpies boss until the end of the season on Friday, and celebrated the fact with a derby draw at Middlesbrough 24 hours later.

A point at the Riverside Stadium eased the crisis-torn Tyneside club out of the Premier League's relegation zone for a few hours at least, and a second successive 0-0 draw away from St James' Park left Kinnear's men hoping a significant corner has been turned.

Viduka, 33, came off the bench for his first appearance of the season and almost snatched victory against his former club at the death.

He is convinced the new-found stability Kinnear's elevation from interim boss at St James' will prove vital in the weeks and months ahead.

He said: ''Definitely. It's a great thing for all people concerned with the football side of the club because we know what is going on.

''Up until Friday, anybody could have been in in any amount of time.

''It's a great thing for us, a bit of stability. Joe is a nice guy. To be honest, I have just started to get to know him and hopefully he can push us forward.''

The stalemate at the Riverside, which came seven days after an identical result at leaders Chelsea, proved a further boost to morale on Tyneside, although left Newcastle without a league win in four games.

Kinnear's side host promoted Stoke next Saturday, and only a three-point haul will convince their doubters that they have what it takes to turn around a disastrous season both on and off the pitch.

Viduka said: ''It's a very busy December and it would be great to get a win at St James', not just for us, but for the supporters.

''It has been a tough run for them as well, and I hope we can get together as a team and forget about all the distractions around the place and start picking up points and winning games and playing some nice football.''

The Magpies left Teesside having been denied victory by the thickness of the crossbar when Obafemi Martins hammered a 35th-minute shot against the woodwork.

Viduka thumped an injury-time volley into keeper Ross Turnbull's midriff on his return to action following six months on the sidelines with an Achilles injury.

However, a goal would have been harsh on his former employers, who edged the contest and had several golden opportunities to win it.

Record signing Afonso Alves passed up a series of chances to end his own personal barren run, and it was full-back Justin Hoyte who very nearly became the unlikely hero when he played a one-two with Jeremie Aliadiere before forcing a fine 75th-minute save from Shay Given.

Viduka said: ''It was and end-to-end game, a lot of passion in it. It was a very quick game.

''At the end of the day, it could have gone either way.''

Viduka's entrance meant another premature departure for Martins, whose displeasure was clear as he headed straight down the tunnel.

Assistant boss Chris Hughton - Kinnear made a swift exit and did not conduct a post-match press conference - was quick to play down the Nigerian's actions.

He said: ''Yes, he was disappointed, but he is okay.

''What we have at the moment is a little bit more competition for places, which is what we have been striving for, certainly in the last few months.

''We have got some bodies back. You want players to be disappointed to come off, and certainly not to be happy.''

Skipper Michael Owen - who has been linked to Liverpool - had to be content with playing his part in a team performance without a single chance coming his way, but Hughton was quick to defend the England international as he attempts to force his way back into national boss Fabio Capello's plans.

Asked if he was concerned about the 28-year-old's form, he said: ''No, not at all. Michael is part of a team effort. We are on the back of a decent run, certainly two very good results, and he is an integral part of that.''


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