Shola Ameobi: Newcastle United must make St James’s Park a tough place to go to

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SHOLA Ameobi has called on Newcastle United to make a “statement” against West Bromwich Albion.

The striker, looking to make up for lost time after a spell out with injury, is hoping to make Alan Pardew’s starting XI at St James’s Park tomorrow.

Pardew’s side are looking to build on their Wear-Tyne derby point, and rediscover the attacking fluency that took the club to a fifth-placed finish in the Premier League last term.

Ameobi missed the start of the season through injury, and is looking for his first Premier League goal of the campaign.

The 31-year-old came off the bench in Thursday night’s 1-0 win over Club Brugge. And the long-serving player’s hoping he did enough to earn a starting berth against Steve Clarke’s in-form side.

“It was a slow start at the start of the season, being injured, so I feel I’m making up for lost time, and raring to go,” said Ameobi.

“I feel very, very good. My game is there, and I’m just itching to play more football.

“If I get the nod, I have to show what I can do because we have got two other great strikers (Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse) at this club who have kept me out of the team.

“I have to make sure if I get my chance, that I take it.”

Ameobi only netted twice last season, and the former England Under-21 international – who has scored 73 career goals for the club – is keen to add to his solitary strike this term.

“Obviously, last season, I didn’t get too many, so it’s something I am looking to rectify this season,” he added.

“As a striker, goals breed confidence and if I can get as many early on as I can, I know my confidence will grow and that can only help the team.”

West Brom are sixth in the league after a strong start to the season, and Ameobi remembers Clarke well from his time as assistant to Ruud Gullit at Newcastle.

“I remember him very well when I was in the youth team,” he said. “I’ve spoken to him a few times over the years, and he’s been fantastic.

“He’s always been a great coach, and he’s stepped into that role and taken to it like a duck to water.

“It’s a great start for him, and I really like to see guys who have been in this area doing well, so I’m really pleased for him and I wish him all the best.”

However, Ameobi’s friendship with Clarke will be suspended for 90 minutes at St James’s Park.

“We’re at home, and we know that this place has to be a fortress for us,” he said. “It has to be a place where we pick up points if we’re going to do what we did last year.

“This place was somewhere that teams found it hard to pick up points, so we have to make it that way.

“Obviously our last home game (against Manchester United) wasn’t the best, so there’s a statement that has to be made there by us to show the fans that we are really back on track.”