Newcastle United’s Shola Ameobi: Pressure? What pressure?

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SHOLA Ameobi says there is no pressure on Newcastle United as they attempt to gatecrash the Champions League party.

Alan Pardew’s in-form side are level with fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur and two points ahead of Chelsea in the Premier League.

While the teams around them have lost their heads in recent weeks, Newcastle have kept theirs and recorded five successive victories, most recently beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at The Sports Direct Arena on Monday.

With Spurs in freefall, the odds have tumbled on United qualifying for the Champions League.

Ameobi scored against Barcelona at the Nou Camp in Newcastle’s last campaign in the competition in 2002/03 and another crack at Europe’s elite would be a dream for the striker.

Only Alan Shearer has scored more European goals for Newcastle than Ameobi, who would love the opportunity to add to his 12-goal tally.

However, for the moment, the 30-year-old is not looking beyond the visit of Stoke City to The Sports Direct Arena on April 21.

“There are a lot of very good teams above us who probably think they deserve the Champions League spot more than we do,” Ameobi said.

“It’s who can get out of these next five games on top. It’s about who can manage their expectations.

“We’ve got no pressure on ourselves. We want to play in Europe. That’s what we want – European football.

“People talk about the Champions League, but let’s focus on the next game and making sure we stay in a European spot.

“That’s as far as we want to look. If we get more than that, great, but what we want to do is secure European football.

“We’re excited. The last five games are a different proposition. The sky’s the limit for us – there’s no pressure at all. I think you can see that when we go out on the pitch.”

Ameobi came off the bench to set up Papiss Demba Cisse’s late goal in United’s Easter Monday win over Bolton Wanderers at The Sports Direct Arena.

The result followed successes against Swansea City, Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Norwich.

In a team meeting last month, Pardew and his players set themselves targets for the last 10 games of the season, with the overriding aim of qualifying for the Europa League.

Newcastle could yet go one better and the excitement inside the dressing room and on Tyneside, is palpable.

“We looked at the last 10 games and set ourselves targets,” said Ameobi,

“To win five games in a row is pretty fantastic. We’re in this position. We’ve been in this position for a while now and we want to stay there. We want to keep that gap between ourselves and Everton.