Shearer backs duo to keep Toon up
Alan Shearer is confident Newcastle will avoid relegation - and he reckons Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins are the men to fire them to safety. Shearer has just seven games to save the team from dropping into the Championship and Saturday's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea has left them deep in trouble, three points from safety. Shearer, though, retains faith in his team and told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek: "It's a tough job, I don't think it is a poisoned chalice. "I've got confidence in the players I've taken over for a short period of time. "Yes, they are low on confidence. It's a huge job but I'm still confident we can avoid the drop. "I learned that when you give mistakes away in this league you get punished. "I learned confidence at times is perhaps not as high as it should be so I've got a few more days before the next game where we can work on that. "We are going to have to improve - we need wins and we need them quickly." Shearer believes the key to survival is getting the ball to Owen and Martins and he will spend the next six days ensuring they do that as much as possible in the final seven games. He said: "We have to try to create chances for them. We have got two very good goalscorers, two different goalscorers. "But on Saturday, it was always going to be difficult to create because of who we were up against. "We sacrificed Michael a little bit trying to help us out in midfield because of the power they have, and he did that very, very well. "But in doing that, we were unable to get him into the right areas, and when we got into the right areas, the delivery let us down or there weren't enough people in there. "But that's something for us to work on." Owen thought he had scored his first goal since January 10 when his deflected 73rd-minute shot appeared to loop over the line before Ashley Cole hacked it clear, although it would have made little difference to the outcome. That was one of only a handful of chances to come the way of either he or Martins, although Shearer was more than happy with a selfless display from his former team-mate for both club and country. He said: "He worked his socks off with little reward. Effort-wise, I certainly had no complaints. "But we have to try to get Michael into positions that he is going to score goals from."It might be easier in different games than it was against the quality of the opposition on Saturday." Newcastle now face a potentially season-defining trip to Stoke - who gave their own survival hopes a massive boost with a 2-0 win at West Brom - on Saturday trying desperately to cling on to the coat-tails of neighbours Sunderland, whose alarming slide continues unabated. Shearer said: "It was always going to be a huge game. It has just got a little bit huger, if there is such a word."But we have got a few more days to work with the players. We had two days, Thursday and Friday, which obviously is not enough, but we will get a good week's training in and see where we get." And so ended the first few whirlwind days of his tenure, with battle lines having been drawn and grim realism the order of the day, but with optimism undiminished. Shearer said: "I'm enjoying it. I don't enjoy walking into the dressing room when we have been beaten and taken no points."But other than that, it's been an interesting three days and three days that I have really enjoyed." The former England striker has also refused to make any points target for survival."No, I don't (know) because when you look at the league there are going to be so many twists and turns between now and the end of the season I'm not sure what is.
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