Sun, Oct 15, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Newcastle manager plays down grudge match speculation

AFP , NEWCASTLE, ENGLAND

Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder insists the Premiership visit by Bolton Wanderers today should not be billed as a grudge match with his opposite number Sam Allardyce.

Allardyce, who has in the past been strongly linked with the Newcastle job, was among the most vociferous opponents when Roeder was placed in permanent charge following a successful spell as caretaker last season.

The Bolton manager voiced his concerns at Roeder's lack of the pre-requisite Pro-License coaching badge, but the Newcastle boss insists he is happy for Allardyce to have his say, and claims there is no ill-feeling between the pair ahead of their meeting at St James' Park.

Roeder said: "I'm quite happy for people to speak their mind when they want to, after all we live in a democracy. Sam will keep speaking his mind, and so will I."

"I didn't pay heed to what was said, and it didn't bother me in the slightest. I had a good chat with Sam last week for 15 minutes and we're absolutely fine," he said.

Titus Bramble is available following suspension, but is likely to have to settle for a place among the substitutes as Craig Moore keeps his place at the heart of Newcastle's defense as full-back Celestine Babayaro serves the last of a three-match ban.

Nol Solano returns after seven weeks out with hamstring trouble, but the continued good form of James Milner on the right of midfield confines the Peruvian to the bench as Newcastle embark on a run of five games in 14 days.

Michael Owen has hinted that he is willing to extend his Newcastle contract, as he continues his lengthy rehabilitation from double knee surgery.

The 26-year-old is unlikely to play this season in the wake of his World Cup injury, but he said: "I'm here as long as everybody wants me. I had four years on my contract when I signed last year, so I'd say I'd be here for at least that length of time, and then you'd have to ask the chairman for the rest."

"I enjoy living in Newcastle and have settled really well. I've got two children, they go to school here and they love it. As any parent will tell you, if your children are happy, then you are happy," he said.

Nicolas Anelka and Abdoulaye Faye are both expected to be fit despite returning from international duty with France and Senegal respectively nursing thigh problems, as Bolton go in search of a fifth successive Premiership clean sheet.

Allardyce brushed-off reports from France claiming Anelka is frustrated at being asked to operate as a lone striker, as he continues the search for a first league goal since his return to the Premiership.

The Bolton manager said: "I've read the whole article translated from French and I don't have a problem with it. We don't always play as he's supposed to have said, just mainly against the big boys and as we've beaten Liverpool and Arsenal playing like that, it can't be bad."

"Not scoring is frustrating but his contribution to the team is improving with every game, and he has realized how we play and what we need to do at certain times. He has to be patient," he said.

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