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Owen offered new deal

Newcastle United tabled a formal contract offer to star striker Michael Owen on Monday and are awaiting a response from the player's representatives.

The England international's current deal expires in the summer and Magpies manager Joe Kinnear had expressed concern that Owen might leave St James' Park.

Newcastle are a club in turmoil, with want-away owner Mike Ashley finding it difficult to find a buyer during the credit crunch, a number of players' contracts winding down and a relegation battle to contend with.

Ashley previously seemed unwilling to enter into contract negotiations Owen's goalscoring performances against Stoke City and in Sunday's vital 3-0 win at Portsmouth have prompted discussions with the club's prized asset.

Kinnear now expects to discuss the future of Owen, Nicky Butt, Steve Harper and Shola Ameobi, who are all out of contract at the end of the season, in a meeting with the club's powerbrokers on Tuesday.

Although it is expected that the 29-year-old striker will be offered a reduced salary of around £85,000 a week Kinnear is desperate to keep Owen on Tyneside.

"I will fight like hell to keep him," said Kinnear.

Owen has been linked with several other Premier League clubs, including a return to Liverpool, but when asked about his future on Sunday he said he could not discuss it until Newcastle initiated contract talks.

''As soon as they speak to me obviously I'll have more news for you,'' Owen said. ''There's quite a few players who are running out of their contracts."

"What do you me to say? None of us have been offered a contract so there's no bad guys here, I've not refused anything."

The former Liverpool striker has had some injury problems since joining Newcastle from Real Madrid for £17million three and a half years but still averages a goal every 2.1 games.

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