Newcastle face Obafemi Martins setback
Shearer's fears about his side's attacking prowess have been heightened by Martins' inability to train in the build-up to the relegation showdown with Middlesbrough due to a nagging groin problem and that has raised doubts about his chances of facing Boro. It is understood that Martins' ongoing problems will mean that skipper Owen will be recalled to Shearer's 1st XI after he was dropped for the 3-0 defeat at Liverpool with a victory over their neighbours ensuring they can leapfrog Hull City out of the bottom three. Should Martins be deemed unfit then Shearer will have to revert to a traditional 4-4-2 formation instead of the 4-3-3 shape that he deployed in the 0-0 draw with Portsmouth on Tyneside a fortnight ago. Owen might well be the Tyneside club's top scorer with ten goals this season but Newcastle are bound to miss his Nigerian colleague's electrifying turn of pace and unpredictability at St James' Park this evening. Boro defenders Robert Huth and David Wheater are bound to find the challenge of thwarting Owen and former Boro striker Mark Viduka more to the liking than the mercurial Martins. Despite being dropped ahead of the Liverpool game, Shearer is convinced that Owen is in the right frame of mind for tonight's game, stating: 'He's reacted in a very professional way, and the way you'd expect him to. Michael's available for us. I've got a team in my head, and we'll see where we go.' On a brighter note for Shearer, Newcastle defender Steven Taylor has pronounced himself ready for the big occasion following ankle trouble and has issued a rallying call to the club's supporters. 'We want Boro to feel intimidated, and our fans mustn't shut up,' Taylor said. 'We need them behind us for 90 minutes, and, hopefully, we'll give them something to shout about. 'They've got to be louder than ever before. It's the biggest Premier League game this club has had – it'll determine our future. He added: 'It's the biggest game in my career for this football club – it's as simple as that. 'I know some players have played in cup finals, but I don't think they'll have played in a bigger game than this. 'We need to focus and be confident. If we can win, it'll be in our hands, as the results have gone well for us. There's a good vibe around the place. 'People can't keep up with us if we play like we can do. We want maximum points from our last three games.' Meanwhile, defender Habib Beye has described the showdown with Middlesbrough as the biggest game of his life. 'It's clear for everyone that we can't afford not to win against Boro because if we want to have a chance to stay in the Premier League, we have to win this game,' the former Marseilles player said. 'I don't care how – 1-0 would be enough – but definitely 100 per cent, we must win this game.' 'I used to play for Strasbourg and I went down into the second league. It was not easy, but it was not this type of thing because we were in the bottom three for the whole season 'For Newcastle, it is different because it is a massive club and you don't want to see Newcastle in the Championship 'That's why for every player now it is the most important game in our life. It will be a good thing if we save the club from the bottom three, and this game can give us a good lift for the next game against Fulham (on Saturday).'
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