Newcastle derby talisman Ameobi goes hunting for Sunderland again

TALISMAN ... Newcastle's Shola Ameobi celebrates scoring the equaliser last season.
TALISMAN ... Newcastle's Shola Ameobi celebrates scoring the equaliser last season.

NEWCASTLE United’s derby talisman Shola Ameobi is desperate to be unleashed on Sunderland.

Only Jackie Milburn has scored more league goals against the club than Ameobi, who has netted seven times in Tyne-Wear fixtures.

And the 31-year-old’s hoping to get the chance to add to his remarkable record at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.

Ameobi came off the bench to net an equaliser in the 1-1 draw between the two sides at St James’s Park in March.

United manager Alan Pardew – who is waiting for first-choice strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse to report back from international duty with Senegal – has already admitted he’s considering starting Ameobi in the sold-out game, such is his record against Sunderland.

For his part, Ameobi’s fit and ready to face Martin O’Neill’s side – if selected.

“I want to score as many goals as I can, regardless of who we’re playing,” Ameobi told the Gazette.

“It’s just fortunate that I keep scoring against them more times than most clubs.

“Hopefully, I can keep that run going. It’s something important to me, but a victory would mean so much to our supporters, and also to our season.

“We’re all excited, and hopefully we come back with the three points.”

A stunning free-kick from Ryan Taylor gave Newcastle a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light last season.

And Ameobi and his team-mates are relishing the chance to make it two in a row on Wearside.

“Any game against Sunderland is always important,” said Ameobi.

“It’s important for our fans and for us as players. We’re looking forward to it.

“It’s something that gets me excited every year.

“I can’t wait. Hopefully, we’re injury-free for the biggest game of the season.”

Ameobi – who has scored 73 career goals for United – missed the start of the campaign after suffering a hamstring injury.

However, the ex-England Under-21 international is now fully fit, and his return to form is timely.

“It’s been very frustrating for me,” he said. “I worked so hard in pre-season to get myself right, and then I got injured just before the first game.

“I worked very hard to come back. I feel that my game is right where I want it.

“I feel that whenever I’m called upon, I can do a great job for the team.

“It’s up to the manager who he picks, but he knows I’m ready to rock and roll.

“I’m ready whenever he asks me. I’m pleased where I am physically.

“I’m fit and looking to play more games.”

Ameobi’s first-team career at Newcastle spans 12 years, and he puts his longevity down to his hunger.

“I’m as hungry as ever,” said Ameobi. “The more years I play, the hungrier I get, because it’s not going to last forever.

“I have to make the most of it. That’s certainly something I’ve always thought.

“You have to make the most of every chance you get. I’m older and wiser, and hopefully I can improve with age. That’s certainly my aim.”

Meanwhile, Cheik Tiote’s Ivory Coast look certain to go through to the African Cup of Nations finals in January at the expense of Senegal.

The second-leg of the play-off between the two sides in Dakar on Saturday was abandoned on with Ivory Coast leading 2-0 on the night, and 6-2 on aggregate, because of a crowd trouble.

Fans rioted after Didier Drogba scored his second goal with 14 minutes left to play.

There has been no official confirmation from African football’s governing body, but the result is expected to stand.

And that would mean Pardew only losing one player – Tiote – rather than Cisse and Ba to the tournament.

Before the game Pardew said the result would have an influence on his thinking ahead of January’s transfer window.

Twitter: @milesstarforth