Family affair for Ameobi brothers

FAMILY AFFAIR ... Sammy Ameobi.
FAMILY AFFAIR ... Sammy Ameobi.

SAMMY Ameobi’s desperate to make his debut on the European stage – and write his family into Newcastle United’s history books.

The 20-year-old is in the squad for tonight’s Europa League group game against Madeiran side Maritimo along with his elder brother Shola.

And should the pair both make it on to the field at the Estadio does Barreiros at the same time, they will be the first siblings since the Appleby brothers – Matty and Richie – to play together for the club in a European game.

The pair played together in an Anglo-Italian Cup tie against Cesena at St James’s Park in 1992.

United manager Alan Pardew could start at least one of the Ameobi brothers against Maritimo, and Sammy – who broke into the first-team squad last season – is relishing the prospect of playing European football so early in his career.

“It’s an opportunity for all the young players,” he told the Gazette.

“Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to show the manager what I’m made of, and that he can trust me to play.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Shola, as well.”

Sammy impressed against European opposition in Newcastle’s pre-season campaign, and like his brother – who has scored 12 goals against continental opposition – he feels he will suit the style of play in the Europa League.

“I had a great pre-season when we were away,” added Sammy, who is close to full fitness after playing two Professional Development League games since recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered in late July.

“That style of football did suit me, so I’m looking forward to playing against European teams. It’ll be positive.”

Pardew has been candid enough to admit that he will field weakened teams in the Europa League given the demands of domestic competition.

That means opportunities for those on the fringes, and Ameobi is determined to take every chance that comes his way.

“We’ve got Maritimo now, and there are a lot of games in a short period of time, so that’s more opportunities for me to play,” he said.

“The more games we have, the merrier. There are a lot of games this season – we’ve got Europe, and the Capital One Cup as well.

“Hopefully, I’ll get my opportunity. If I do, I want to take it.”

Ameobi scored the only goal of his first-team career last season in the Carling Cup at Scunthorpe last season, but saw his campaign hit by a series of niggling injuries as he tried to push on.

He faces a battle with French trio Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux and Romain Amalfitano for an attacking slot, with brother Shola expected to lead the line in the absence of strike duo Papiss Demba Cisse, who is ill, and Demba Ba, who also wasn’t on the team plane to Portugal when it took off yesterday.

SQUAD: Harper, Elliot, Tavernier, Perch, S Taylor, Williamson, Santon, Ferguson, Abeid, Anita, Bigirimana, Amalfitano, Gosling, Vuckic, Marveaux, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi, Campbell.

Twitter: @milesstarforth

The Gazette’s Europa League coverage is in association with UTS Engineering Ltd.