A FIT again Michael Owen has revealed a burning desire to score his first goal at the Gallowgate End for Newcastle United.

The 27-year-old famously bagged a first-half hat-trick for Liverpool at the Gallowgate End in Ruud Gullit's first match in charge immediately after the 1998 World Cup. He also netted at the same end the previous season for the Reds in a 2-1 League Cup victory.

In total, Owen has scored seven times in four fixtures for Liverpool at St James' Park, while he also bagged two goals in three appearances for England on Tyneside.

He even netted for England Under-15s against Scotland in the Victory Shield, a goal Owen claims is the best he's ever scored.

Yet despite those impressive statistics for other teams he has yet to open his account for the Magpies at the Gallowgate End.

A solitary strike at the Leazes End against Manchester City last year is the only time he has registered a goal for Newcastle in four outings for the club at home.

But the £17m forward is hoping to put that blemish right soon.

"It would be nice to score a goal at St James' but I'll take any goal to start with," said Owen, who took part in his first match since limping out of England's World Cup group clash with Sweden last June when netting in the 4-1 victory over Scottish Division One leaders Gretna in a friendly.

"It is a famous end to score in, the Gallowgate End. I've scored many times at that end for England and Liverpool but never for Newcastle and hopefully it will come soon."

The goal won't come this weekend, however, as Newcastle are at Portsmouth. But it is possible it could come in seven days, when United entertain Premier League champions Chelsea on home turf.

Newcastle manager Glenn Roeder was understandably cagey about his striker's return to the first team, although he did maintain today's contest at Fratton Park is too soon.

"I will not consider Michael for selection until I am 100 per cent certain that he would be able to start and finish a game," insisted Roeder. "Portsmouth is not even a possibility. It's not even entered my head at all. Chelsea, is a small possibility, no more than that. Michael has been out ten months. Prior to that, due to his metatarsal injury, he hasn't played any football at all over the past 18 months of any consequence really. So to be impatient now would be very poor on my part."

Some have suggested the club should resist playing Owen in case he suffers another injury in a season where the club has little to play for.

But while Roeder is urging caution, he is determined to play Owen this term.

"Are we never going to play him again because he will definitely stay fit then? I can't wait to write his name on my team sheet," said the 51-year-old.

"I have told him that many times.

"I have not been able to do that except once on the bench and that was an absolute disaster because after 20 minutes his metatarsal was sore again. He then went to the World Cup and the rest is history.

"All that has been on my mind is will he be fit to play a Premier League game this season? If not, we will just shrug our shoulders and move on, knowing he will be fit for pre-season training on July 5."

Roeder made it known Owen will play no part in the reserves' midweek fixture against Middlesbrough, but acknowledged he may play in another friendly, against an as yet unnamed team, to step up his match fitness.

While it will take several matches to get him up to the pace of the Premiership, the United boss revealed the former Real Madrid frontman is in great physical shape after a gruelling rehabilitation programme with John Green, the physio responsible for finally ending Kieron Dyer's problematic hamstring problem.

He said: "Michael has had to work very hard, probably harder than he has ever worked in his life.

"My feeling is that if we just look at his physical condition now, he is in much better shape than when he arrived from Real Madrid in terms of strength and general physical condition.

"He looks two inches broader. He has been made to work very hard to add strength to the top half of his body.

"He has also worked extremely hard on his legs, which includes some really quality work on that hamstring which has bothered him down the years."