Date: 21st April 2007 at 10:00pm
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I guess over time a man`s achievements start to look even better when you compare them to what is happening in the present. That`s certainly the case with Sir Bobby Robson`s time at NUFC. Watching the teams with verve and flair he took to 4th, 3rd and 5th seems a very distant memory already compared with some of the Souness and Roeder dross served up so far. Anyway – enough of the misty eyed memories and back to the here-and-now. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Sir Bobby has again come out in defence of Newcastle and recommended an overhaul of the way the FA handle a club`s player:

“I`m going to watch Newcastle play Chelsea today. It`s the sort of occasion made for Michael Owen, but of course he`s highly unlikely to play, a legacy of the knee injury sustained at the World Cup.

Newcastle have been deeply frustrated their £17 million star hasn`t played this season. While the FA`s insurers are paying half of Owen`s wages, the governing body don`t appear to have contributed towards his estimated £150,000 medical costs. The best surgeons in the world don`t come cheap.

On the Owen issue, my sympathy is largely with the club, who have lost a valuable servant through no fault of their own and who, quite reasonably, want compensation.
The bottom line is that we haven`t got an England team without the club`s players, and if the FA don`t show goodwill on matters like this we`re heading for problems.

I`m fervently pro-England, but the FA mustn`t lose sight of the problems clubs face. Poor West Ham have been without top striker Dean Ashton all season after he was hurt at an England training camp and they could get relegated.

Owen has had to go to America more than once for treatment to a nasty injury. I would regard it as fair for England to contribute towards the costs of that. Unlike some national associations, I think they can afford it.

It`s most important for the FA and top clubs to enter dialogue about this. I understand they have their own interests to protect but they shouldn`t forget the fans, who support their club and England.
Everyone would love to see Owen play for England against Brazil in the opening match at Wembley but you couldn`t blame Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd for having doubts.

He`ll be half-thinking: ‘What happens if he gets injured again?’ I`m told if he injures the same knee, Newcastle won`t be entitled to compensation.

Club v country is always a delicate balancing act but, on this occasion, I believe the clubs have a reasonable point.”