LEON Best is confident he’s proved his Premier League pedigree – despite missing the bulk of the season through injury.
The striker is hoping to make his comeback in Newcastle United’s final game of the season tomorrow, against West Bromwich Albion at St James’s Park.
Best hit six goals earlier in the year before he suffered a recurrence of the ankle problem which ruled him out of the first few months of the season.
And having returned to fitness, the 24-year-old – who joined the club in January last year from Coventry City – is already looking forward to next season, believing he’s answered any questions about his ability to score goals in the top flight.
“Being injured came at a bad time for me in March – I know I was in form and playing well,” Best (right) said.
“The main thing is I’ve proved to myself that I can score in the Premier League and I just need to get myself fit and continue it.
“I didn’t play a lot of games this season, but my goals-to-game ratio’s very good. I can look back at that any time I’m in doubt in the future.
“It’s six goals in nine starts – any striker would be happy with that.
“I’d have continued scoring if I’d been fit, because I definitely had the confidence. I felt great – then the ankle came back to haunt me.
“Hopefully, that’s out the way now, because there is nothing else that can happen to that ankle. It’s a matter of getting a few minutes on Sunday and then getting ready for next season.
“Now I just want to get myself as fit as I can and as sharp as I can because I know I can do it.
“I’ve been training for the last few days. The first day I struggled, but yesterday, the day before and on Friday have been very good.”
After making an early impression in pre-season, Best’s campaign took a turn for the worse before a ball was kicked in anger in the Premier League.
“When I ruptured my ankle ligament at the start of the season, I must have broken a bone in there,” he added.
“There was some floating bone which was messing with all the ligaments in my tendon.
“I had to get injections through the season and the last injection didn’t work.
“So it was just a matter of getting the floating bone out of the way and it now feels fine. There’s no problems now – touch wood.”
Meanwhile, United manager Alan Pardew says striker Shola Ameobi’s likely involvement in Nigeria’s summer internationals is a worry for the club, given the potential for injury.
Pardew said: “It’s a concern – it’s a conversation we’ll have on Monday.”