Allardyce hails vital win
Allardyce says he will be 'very protective' of Owen
By Steve Pass. Last Updated: October 7, 2007 10:59pm
Owen: Goal on return
Newcastle boss Sam Allardyce praised his Newcastle team after they beat Everton in a five-goal thriller at St James' Park.
Their 3-2 victory came thanks to goals from Nicky Butt and substitutes Emre and Michael Owen, with an Andrew Johnson strike and injury time Shay Given own goal in reply.
The victory means Newcastle are unbeaten at St James' Park this term, with three wins and a draw, and was particularly welcome following successive away defeats to Manchester City and Arsenal.
Allardyce admitted it had been some game, adding: "It went to right to the very, very end which was unexpected with that Shay own goal which was I thought rather unlucky.
"Thankfully by that time there was little time left for Everton and we'd already got the third which made it very, very important and a very big three points for us, bouncing back from Man City last week."
Michael Owen came off the bench to score, just days after returning from surgery, and his fitness and contribution will have delighted England boss Steve McClaren.
But on a more negative note, Alan Smith is a doubt for the forthcoming England games with a knee problem.
Allardyce will give McClaren an update on the situation with Owen, saying: "I haven't spoken to Steve about that yet. I need to speak to him privately regarding that situation and see what he thinks, and it is the same with Alan Smith.
"I have to be very protective regarding Michael Owen, that's why I did not start him because he has got to be eased back into it.
"For me, it is about making sure that every game Newcastle United play, he is available to be selected.
"Me using my experience in that area, it is about trying to get him to be available consistently from now on and scoring goals."
Asked if Owen could have started the game, Allardyce replied: "In my opinion, no; in his opinion, yes.
"But at the end of the day, I try to do what is best for the football club and for Michael, as with any player.
"I will try to always get a player to sustain his fitness and sustain his availability for the team, and if that means not starting him, if that means pulling him off with 20 minutes to go and that gets him up to the mark we are looking for, then that is what I will do."