FOR some players, getting into Newcastle’s team has been a bit of a nightmare this season, but Sammy Ameobi tells Stuart Rayner he is living in dreamland.
THE better Newcastle United do this season, the less likely Sammy Ameobi is to get onto the field.
While some managers seem to enjoy changing their team for change’s sake, the team-sheet Alan Pardew pins up at the end of each week’s training has been a model of consistency. For those, like Ameobi, not in the 11 which has started the last five league games, the League Cup offers their best hope of first-team football.
Even Pardew has used the most lightly-regarded of the major trophies as an opportunity for those on the sidelines to scrape off a bit of rust. Half Ameobi’s appearances this term have come in the competition. Since leaving the bench at Nottingham Forest in the last round, he has not had a kick.
But with Wembley looming into view – win tonight and it is three games away – even that avenue seems as if it might be cordoned off, or at least narrowed. Injuries to Cheick Tioté and Steven Taylor guarantee some variety against Blackburn Rovers, but change may not be forthcoming.
Pardew has been obstinately tight-lipped about his thinking, refusing to give the slightest hint as to whether he will follow the path taken so far in the competition, the one trodden in the league, or a middle road. His refusal to give former colleague-turned opposite number Steve Kean any clues suggests a man rightly taking the competition very seriously.
Pardew senses the unexpected possibility that the club might have to order some more silver polish at the end of the season. That in turn implies his line-up will be the strongest he can muster. When we speak in a corridor at Newcastle’s training ground on Monday, even Ameobi has no idea what his manager is thinking.
While some are bound to get frustrated at spending their weekends in dugouts, or worse still on sofas or in the stands, Ameobi has no such problems. Young, respectful and with potential but no pedigree, he is anything but a stroppy teenager.
“It makes things a bit harder for me to get a game but I want the best for the club,” says the 19-year-old with a smile. “I’m not just thinking about getting a run-out, I want the best for Newcastle as well. You’d never have thought we’d still be unbeaten in all competitions. It’s been a great start for the club and everyone’s playing well at the moment so you really have to fight for your place. I’m looking forward to it.
“In the Carling Cup you’re going to give younger players the opportunity to show what they can do.
“He (Pardew)’s given me that opportunity in the past and hopefully I will get it again at Blackburn. Hopefully I can do what I do. For me it’s about hard work. I’d like to think I’ve got the talent and ability to be a good player but the effort you put in, that’s what I’m working on at the moment.”