Michael Owen in danger of losing his place at Newcastle United
01 May 2009 07:49
Shearer has four games to save Newcastle from relegation and Owen's loss of form had already raised doubts about whether or not the former Liverpool striker should spearhead his attack on the daunting trip to Anfield.
Shearer is unlikely to field three strikers as he did in the 0-0 draw against Portsmouth last Monday and he pointedly refused to guarantee that Owen would make his first XI at the expense of Mark Viduka or Obafemi Martins.
"If I do decide to drop one of the three strikers it will be a tough choice," Shearer said.
"I have been mad in my time but I do not want to give away any formations or selections but I tend to agree that yeah, it might be mad to go there with three up front.
"If I believe he [Owen] can score at Liverpool then that will be reflected in the team on Sunday," Shearer said. "If I believe that he can't then that's a decision that I have to make. But I will go on Sunday with the team that I believe will be best suited to that particular game to try to get a result."
Owen has not scored in his last nine games and squandered the game's best chance against Portsmouth. His absence would accelerate his fall from grace at Newcastle and also deny him the chance to impress England coach Fabio Capello, who will be among the guests at Anfield.
"If you look at the stats, work-rate wise there's there is definitely no complaint whatsoever as he's always in the top three or four players on the pitch," Shearer added.
"But Michael has made his name from goals and he was disappointed not to score the other night as was everybody else. But he didn't, Oba didn't, Mark didn't and we didn't win the game.
"But Michael will not wallow in self pity. He's still banging them in during training but I want him scoring in games rather than training. He would have hoped to put that chance away."
Shearer, meanwhile, is backing his defenders to thwart Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.
"Torres is a top player, power, pace, work-rate but more importantly
goals," Shearer, the Premier League's most prolific ever striker, said.
"He is a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals. So our defenders will know on Sunday that they have been in a game. Have we got enough to keep him quiet? I believe so."