SCOTT PARKER has labelled Michael Owen the best English striker of his generation.

The £16m signing from Real Madrid scored two late goals in Geneva on Saturday to hand England a 3-2 win over Argentina.

And Parker, who himself has ambitions to be part of the England squad at the World Cup Finals in Germany next year, believes his ability to be in the right place at the right time makes him invaluable to any team.

Owen was largely anonymous for most of the game in Switzerland, but showed his predatory instincts with the goals that took his tally for England to 35 in 75 internationals.

Parker said: "It's a joy to have him in front of you. With Michael up there, he's a proven goalscorer and in a league of his own really.

"It says it all when you have him in your side. I can't see a lot better than that to be honest.

"You get Michael on to the end of a ball and there's every chance the end product is a goal.

"He can snatch us goals at any moment."

Owen has already proved himself a hit on Tyneside with four goals in six games for the Magpies including the only goal in a hard-earned win over Manchester City at St James' Park in September.

Parker believes it is that ability to win games with one strike that marks him out among the Premiership's elite players.

"With someone like him in your team there's every chance you can be up against it, and then, bang, you're 1-0 up," said Parker.

"He's been winning us games this year. I just think you have the best of strikers in Michael - you have so much to deal with.

"He's quicker than anything and if you give him half a yard nine times out of ten it's a goal.

"If I was a defender I wouldn't be too happy marking him."

* Newcastle are running the rule over Anderlecht winger Christian Wilhelmsson.

The right-sided player, who can also operate on the left, would provide competition in the Magpies midfield, and reports suggest Graeme Souness is keen to bring the £2m-rated player to St James' Park.

The 25-year-old Swede is being tracked by a number of other Premier League clubs, with the player keen on a move to England.

* Newcastle have become the first club in the Premier League to use artificial light machines in a bid to protect the St James' Park surface.

The turf at the stadium receives limited sunlight over the winter months and in recent seasons has become so poor it was even criticised by the club's own players.

Earlier this year former Magpie Craig Bellamy weighed in to the debate on the Tyneside playing surface which has never been right since a third tier was added to the top of the Milburn and Sir John Hall Stands in August 2000.

Sections of the surface have been re-layed in recent seasons, while the entire pitch was replaced in the summer on 2004.

The Magpies have invested in four light rigging machines from a Dutch firm with Arsenal expected to follow suit in the near future.

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