Newcastle United's short-term manager Alan Shearer has revealed that prior to his appointment two weeks ago, Australian striker Mark Viduka had been effectively "sidelined" at the club.

The 33-year-old has endured an injury-plagued two years with the Magpies, making only 20 Premier League starts in that time. And when he walked off the pitch at Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day, saying he was suffering from a groin problem, the Toon Army chanted "You're not fit to wear the shirt" at him.

More recently, Viduka has had an Achilles tendon problem, but Shearer has included him in the squad for this weekend's crucial game at Tottenham Hotspur.

Shearer discussed the situation with Viduka - whose contract expires in the summer, though there is an option to extend it - and revealed to The Times, "The big thing with Mark is getting him fit and keeping him fit.

"We have to try and manage that and treat him differently to the rest of the players in training. It's fair to say that Mark probably wouldn't have played again this season if things hadn't changed. So just having him available to play some part is great.

"He was injured and not in a good condition and probably on his way to Australia this summer, because talks hadn't happened between himself and the football club. But he's shown a great appetite to get us out of trouble, which is what I'm looking for. He was sidelined before I came. If we can get something out of him between now and the end of the season it could be key."

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