Newcastle’s Euro star can be Shola Ameobi again

EURO ACE ... Newcastle's Shola Ameobi.
EURO ACE ... Newcastle's Shola Ameobi.

SHOLA Ameobi’s ready to climb off the treatment table at Newcastle United – and write another chapter in the club’s European history.

The striker has been struggling with an ankle problem ahead of tonight’s Round of 16 tie.

But United manager Alan Pardew’s confident the 31-year-old will be fit enough to face Anzhi Makhachkala at St James’s Park tonight – and move ahead of Alan Shearer on European appearances.

Both players have turned out 49 times in Europe.

Only former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given – who made 62 appearances in UEFA competitions during his career on Tyneside – has played more games against continental opposition.

And Pardew, mindful of Ameobi’s impact in Europe, is keen for him to be involved in the second-leg of the tie.

“He is always inspired by the bigger games – you only have to see him when we play Sunderland,” Pardew said.

“When the big games come around, he comes alive.

“That’s a better scenario than when it’s the other way round – trust me.

“I’ve had players when the big games come along, they’re not really there. So he’s the other way round.”

Ameobi – who came off the bench in the first leg in Moscow, which ended goalless – hasn’t trained this week, but that won’t be a bar to Pardew naming him on his bench if he passes a late fitness test.

Pardew added: “I can’t see a scenario where he doesn’t get a part in the game if he comes through his fitness test.

“If we are defending a lead, then he’s a defensive striker for us.

“We’ve seen many times here many teams that bombard you, but he’ll be there heading it out, and if we need a goal, he’ll come on and do his very best to get us the winner.

“Therefore, it’s no mistake that he is reaching 50 games because he’s got that quality. He’s played in much bigger games than this.”

Ameobi scored the only goal of the last round against Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv. The strike was his 15th in Europe. Only Shearer (30) has scored more goals for the club in UEFA competition.