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By ESPN Staff

Toon striker Martins forced into hernia op

Newcastle have confirmed that striker Obafemi Martins will undergo hernia surgery in Germany on Monday. The 24-year-old Nigerian will be operated on by renowned specialist Dr Ulrike Muschaweck, and hopes to be back in action within a matter of weeks.

Martins has also moved to distance himself from criticism of the club's medical staff attributed to one of his representatives, who suggested the injury had not been picked up quickly enough.

The £10million man said: "I wish to make it perfectly clear that I have never criticised the medical team at Newcastle United, who all do an excellent job for the club.

"All I am concentrating on is getting fit again as soon as possible so I can be back playing and helping the team."

Martins has not played since suffering a groin injury shortly before scoring his side's second goal in their 3-0 Premier League win at Portsmouth on on December 14.

Dr Muschaweck has previously operated upon former Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer and current players Michael Owen, Shay Given and Steve Harper among others in recent years.

Shearer in particular was out of action for less than a fortnight, and boss Joe Kinnear will hope for a similarly speedy recovery this time around.

Martins is one of eight Magpies currently on the casualty list as Kinnear's squad is stretched to its limits.

To make matters worse, midfielder Nicky Butt is suspended for Saturday's crucial Premier League clash with West Ham, and Danny Guthrie has been laid low by a bout of flu which could reduce the manager's options even further.

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