Graeme Souness is praying skipper Alan Shearer can carry the burden for his injury-hit side, and get him out of the mess he is in, as the pressure mounts. The 35-year-old has so often in the past been the man who has held things together at St James' Park, but his influence has rarely been needed as much as it is at the moment.
The Toon head into Saturday's FA Cup third-round clash with League Two Mansfield with the gaffa fighting for his job. In an ideal world, Shearer might have been rested for a game, but that is no longer the case this weekend.
With Owen joining Kieron Dyer, Steven Taylor, Emre, Stephen Carr, Craig Moore and, crucially, Scott Parker in the treatment room, Lee Bowyer suspended and Amdy Faye away on African Nations Cup duty with Senegal, Souness will once again need his captain to lead by example with speculation mounting over his future.
Souness: "If you were going to war tomorrow, he would be the first name on the list. He's a man who is capable of getting all goals, but the priority for him is for the team to do well and the team to win games, which makes him a real team player.
"He's a scorer of any type of goal, whether it's towering headers, whether it's diving headers, tap-ins or spectacular shots from outside the box. He plays he style of centre-forward play in the hardest possible way, which is with his back towards the goal, and he's not the biggest of men.
"Generally today, he is playing against men who are three or four inches bigger than him and maybe a stone heavier than him, but he's a man in every sense of the word."