Ex-Panithanaikos star Mehdi Abeid can’t wait to leave Newcastle United ... for Algeria

PLAYING WELL: Mehdi Abeid in action against Liverpool. Picture by FRANK REID
PLAYING WELL: Mehdi Abeid in action against Liverpool. Picture by FRANK REID

MEHDI Abeid is looking to leave Newcastle United in January – for the African Cup of Nations.

The midfielder was called up by Algeria for the first time after forcing his way into Alan Pardew’s starting XI at St James’s Park.

Abeid impressed in United’s wins over Manchester City, Liverpool and West Brom.

And the 22-year-old’s form didn’t go unnoticed in Algeria, who he had previously represented at Under-23 level after switching allegiance from France, the country of his birth.

Abeid could make his senior debut in tomorrow’s home African Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia in Blida.

“It’s my first time with the senior national team,” Abeid told SportMail. “I’m really happy I’ve been called up. It’s great for me.”

Abeid’s days at Newcastle looked numbered when he joined Panathinaikos on a season-long loan last year. He had failed to make an impression on Alan Pardew’s first team during his first two years at St James’s Park.

But Abeid starred for the Greek club, and an injury to first-choice midfielder Cheik Tiote opened the door for him at United.

While his first priority is to keep his place in Newcastle’s starting XI, Abeid would be honoured to play for Algeria in the African Cup of Nations - if it still goes ahead in January.

“Of course, it’s in my mind,” said Abeid. “It will depend on the choice of the manager.

“I have a chance, and I will try to do my best, but the most important thing to is play for Newcastle. We will see what will be.

“I want to impose myself here, and then think of my national team.

“My first thought is to play a lot of games for Newcastle.”

Tiote (Ivory Coast) and Papiss Demba Cisse (Senegal) could also be going to the African Cup of Nations.

The Confederation of African Football is set to reveal which country will host the tournament instead of Morocco, who have been disqualified.

Algeria have already qualified for the African finals and coach Christian Gourcuff is keen to take a look at Abeid, who has won praise from United manager Alan Pardew.

Pardew said: “He’s definitely a gauge for other young players – not just at this club, but other Premier League clubs.

“He’s shown that going out on loan can help massively. He came back from that a much better player. We need to thank Panathinaikos for what they did for him, but it worked both ways, because he did very well.”