Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder has admitted that star striker Michael Owen may miss almost all of the coming campaign as he recovers from a serious knee injury.
The 26-year-old suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in England's World Cup clash with Sweden earlier this summer and Roeder is worried that he may not return to action at all until next summer.
He told Radio Newcastle: "I don't know and I can't say whether he will play again this season. We'll have to wait and see.
"If I say we will have Michael Owen back by next March and next March comes round and he is not fit, it causes more problems than you would want.
"All I can say is he is getting the best possible treatment. We have sent him to one of the best surgeons in the world to be operated upon.
"It is certainly a long-term injury."
Owen has netted seven goals in just 11 appearances for the Magpies since his arrival from Real Madrid in August 2005, having missed a large chunk of last term with a foot injury.