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Shearer Confident Ahead of Crucial Relegation Battle
The Guardian UK, May 22nd, 2009 1:45PM

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Alan Shearer's Newcastle needs at least a point against Aston Villa on Sunday. But even a win might not ensure survival in the Premier League if Hull City beast Manchester City and Sunderland upends Chelsea.

"It's bigger than a cup final, a hell of a lot bigger than a cup final," said Shearer. "The question has been asked on four or five occasions over the last four or five games, 'Is this the biggest game of your career?' and I keep answering, 'Yes, because it's the next one'. But we know what's at stake, we know what's riding on it and I am pretty confident we can go there and give our great fans something to shout about, I really am."

Newcastle faces a few lineup problems. The team will be without Habib Beye, as the club's only recognized right back has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Their only left back, Jose Enrique, has just returned to training. Striker Michael Owen will undergo a late fitness test while the manager hopes Obafemi Martins will continue to play through his long-standing groin injury. Central defender Sebastien Bassong will join the suspended Joey Barton in the stands after losing his appeal against the red card he picked up against Fulham last week. Alan Smith, however, has been passed fit after recovering from a thigh problem.

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