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Europa League will hand Sammy Ameobi more opportunities
WHEN Sammy Ameobi spent an afternoon passing on his wisdom to the next generation of players on Tyneside this week, it reminded the 20- year-old of his football roots.
Ameobi, along with teammate Gael Bigirimana, was at Complete Football in Gosforth for a community initiative to assist the NUFC Foundation with a coaching programme involving Tyne Met College.
For any budding footballer, receiving advice from one of your heroes can make a huge difference. At 20 and 18-yearsold respectively, Ameobi and Bigirimana are still relatively early in to their careers and their own experiences of coming up through the ranks are still fresh in the mind.
That said, this season could prove pivotal for the pair with Alan Pardew set to give his younger players plenty of opportunities to shine both domestically and in the Europa League.
For Ameobi, in particular, this season represents the transition from boy to man as he openly admits.
Having burst on to the scene at the beginning of last season when he scored an extra time winner in the League Cup at Scunthorpe, it seemed Newcastle had found their next young prodigy.
A string of appearances after that saw the younger brother of Shola cement his place in Pardew’s match day squads until he suffered a serious knee injury during a reserve game.
He recovered, only to suffer a hamstring injury during pre-season, but now he has returned to training and admits it is time to grow up and show everyone exactly what he is capable of.
“The boss wants to see progression from me,” Ameobi said. “I have come in and had my period when everything was going well and I was flying high. It has come to the stage now when I have to grow up and start to make a name for myself.
“I’m raring to go and hopefully I can get into the squad for Everton on Monday night.
“All I told the guys (from Tyne Met College) was for them to work hard. That’s the message I got across to them.
“I was told I had good ability when I was coming through, but that it didn’t really mean anything and that if you didn’t put the effort into progress then the ability didn’t really count. So I like to pass that on to young guys now.
“Having a nice touch or being good in the air is only ten per cent of it. You need to put in the hard graft to get rewards.”
If everything goes to plan, Ameobi could be rewarded with his first taste of European football when the Magpies travel to Maritimo next Thursday night.
Pardew has already gone on record to say he will field more of his younger players as he looks to keep the club’s position in the Premier League’s top six safe.
The fact he is willing to put his faith in the young lads is refreshing for Ameobi and he admits it is a great time to be at the club.
He said: “It’s top notch for all the young kids. There will be plenty of games, not just for me, but for all the younger lads to get a chance and try to make an impact.
“I hope we can show that we can be trusted to do a job. The boss does believe in developing the young players.
“I think we have a terrific group of lads. They are really talented. It’s just a case of getting an opportunity to play and showing how good we are.
We might not play every game at first and to do that we must show consistency.
“This is a massive season for the club and me personally.
We are in Europe for the first time in a while and it’s my first opportunity to taste that.”
Despite his limited appearances, Ameobi is already a favourite amongst supporters, something he puts down to his Tyneside roots and older brother.
“The supporters do will me to do well,” he said. “I am a homegrown boy, I was born here, and obviously my brother has played here for the past 12 years or so.
“I think they know it means a lot more to me because this is the club I have always supported.
“With Shola being here and having been born in Newcastle, I didn’t really have any choice but to become a fan.”