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English Premiership

Shearer banking on Ferguson

BIRMINGHAM, May 23 – Alan Shearer is relying on a favour from Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, the man he twice rejected during his playing days, as he tries to keep Newcastle in the Premier League.ALAN_SHEARER_1Former England striker Shearer turned down chances to join Ferguson’s club when he opted instead to move to Blackburn Rovers and then Newcastle during the 1990s.

Now Shearer is banking on Ferguson picking a team strong enough win at Hull to give Newcastle a chance to avoid the drop.

Newcastle need to better Hull’s result, which means a win at Aston Villa will not even guarantee safety if Hull overcome the below-strength team that many expect Ferguson to send out ahead of the Champions League final against Barcelona.

But Shearer said: "We know what is at stake – it’s the biggest game of my life. I need Sir Alex to do me a favour and hopefully he will.

"He’s probably the greatest manager of all time, he’s got a huge influence on the game and he’s won everything going and he’s someone I get on with.

"I’m confident he’ll put out a Manchester United team that he thinks can win. He’s done it on numerous occasions this season and there hasn’t been a huge outcry. He’ll do it again by resting some big players on Sunday and he’s entitled to do that."

Newcastle have won just twice in 19 games and only once away from home in more than five months to leave them in the bottom three.

Shearer said: "There’ll be twists and turns all afternoon but if we go there and win I’m confident we’ll stay up.

"Villa are on as bad a run as we are and hopefully we can take advantage of that. We know it’ll be nerve wracking but I’ve got a good bunch of players who will be able to handle the pressure of the situation.

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"It’s been a tough season and mistakes have been made but we can rectify all that in one game and, while it might sound daft, I’m really looking forward to Sunday."

Shearer’s eight-match spell in charge of Newcastle is due to end after Sunday’s match, but it now appears possible he will sign a contract to stay as manager even if they go down.

Shearer has injury and suspension problems as Newcastle attempt to extend their 15-year stay in the top flight.

Sebastien Bassong is banned, full-back Habib Beye is ruled out with hamstring trouble, striker Andy Carroll is sidelined with ankle problem and Michael Owen is a doubt after missing training all week with a groin strain.

Martin O’Neill’s Villa have fallen away in the second half of the campaign, dropping out of the running for a top four spot with just one win in their last 15 games.

O’Neill said: "Alan Shearer was enjoying his role as a pundit for the BBC and I have worked with him in that environment. He has been very brave to take it on.

"He has thrown himself into the deep end. Whether he volunteered, I don’t know, but it was a big thing for him to do and a huge decision, but he can have a galvanising effect.

"No one, even with the problems and turmoil Newcastle had earlier in the season, had them going down to the last day of the season needing to win to avoid relegation and even that might not be enough.

"But what Shearer does in the dressing room before the game can have an effect. I think he will be capable of saying things in there and making a difference. He will have a big effect.

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"I have not spoken to him directly since he got the job, but I think he will relish it, long term, even if they go down. He seems destined to do it. I don’t know him that well, but he seems to have the taste for it now.

"Just because he is a fellow pundit, there seems to be some conspiracy theory going around that we will take it easy on them. That is not true."

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