Newcastle United’s Shola Ameobi eyes league start

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NEWCASTLE United talisman Shola Ameobi is aiming to force his way into Alan Pardew’s Premier League side.

Ameobi opened the scoring in last night’s comfortable 3-0 Europa League win over Bordeaux at the Sports Direct Arena.

The long-serving striker – handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini by Pardew – had the simplest of tap-ins after Gabriel Obertan put in a low cross from the left.

The strike took the 30-year-old’s European goal tally for the club to 13 goals, with Alan Shearer (30) the only player to have scored more than him for the club against continental opposition.

However, Ameobi, yet to start a domestic league game this season, isn’t content with leading the line in Europe, and the former England Under-21 international’s hoping to face Manchester United on Tyneside on Sunday.

“I don’t think I’m that old that I can’t play two games in four days!” said Ameobi.

“The manager picks the team, but I’m available and every time I pull on that shirt I’m trying to show him I’m worth a starting place in the Premier League. That’s all I can do – play as hard and as well as I can. If he picks me, I’ll be ready to go.”

Ameobi’s confident he can dovetail into Pardew’s Premier League attack, which has been well led by six-goal Demba Ba, rested last night, so far this season.

Ba’s strike partner, Papiss Demba Cisse, was also on target against Bordeaux.

“At the start of last season I played with Demba quite a bit and he’s a guy who can score goals from anywhere,” he added.

“Papiss is the same. They’re very easy to work with as you know they are going to get on the end of things. I like get the ball down and bring people into play. I think they really enjoy me doing that.

“Hopefully, I can bring that to the team and help the team play better than they have been.”

The result against Bordeaux, previously unbeaten in 17 games, moved Newcastle to the top of their Europa League group.

There was little to choose between the sides early on, but the visitors should have been ahead when Jaroslav Plasil crossed from the left for Ludovic Obraniak to head high and wide when well placed.

Rob Elliot needed to make a smart 15th-minute save from Yoan Gouffran – but the home side took the lead seconds later in impressive fashion.

Cabaye played an inviting pass out to Obertan on the left and he carved his way into the box past Mariano and then Henrique to put the ball on a plate for Ameobi at the far post.

The contest remained evenly balanced, but it tipped heavily in the home side’s favour with five minutes of the half remaining.

Ameobi slid the ball into the fit-again Danny Simpson’s path as the right-back overlapped and when he drilled a cross into the box, Henrique could not resist the temptation to get his toe to it, succeeding only in turning it past keeper Cedric Carrasso and into his own net.

Alan Pardew was forced to make a change at the break when he had to replace Elliot, who had been struggling towards the end of the first half, with Steve Harper.

Gillot withdrew Plasil and Obraniak to send on Landry N’Guemo and Cheick Diabate with the game rapidly slipping away from his team and Bordeaux might have been back in it had a combination of Harper and the post not kept out Henri Saivet’s cheeky 48th-minute backheel.

However, the game was effectively over within seconds. The ball found its way to Shane Ferguson on the left and his cross was scooped expertly past Carrasso and in off the foot of the post by Cisse.

Sunderland old boy David Bellion might have reduced the deficit 16 minutes from time when he got the benefit of what looked like a generous offside decision, but Harper refused to be beaten.

Newcastle United: Elliot (Harper), Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Ferguson, Cabaye (Bigirimana), Anita, Tiote (Gosling), Obertan, Cisse, Sh Ameobi. Subs:Santon, Ben Arfa, Ba, Sa Ameobi

Bordeaux: Cedric Carasso, Henrique, Mariano, Planus, Tremoulinas, Obraniak (Diabate), Sane, Plasil (N’Guemo), Gouffran (Bellion), Jussie, Saivet

Subs: Olimpa, Chalme, Marange, Traore

Ref: Lahoz Att: 30,987.