SAMMY Ameobi’s been backed to make an even bigger impression next season at Newcastle United.
And Shane Ferguson has been told he’ll also be more involved after impressing manager Alan Pardew.
Ameobi regularly came off the bench in the first half of the campaign before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury in a reserve-team game in January.
The 20-year-old – whose form for United led to an England Under-21 call – had hoped to return before the end of the season, but he just failed to prove his fitness in time.
However, Ameobi – who was handed a new long-term contract late last year in recognition for his “breakthrough” – has been told he’ll see a lot more football next season, when Newcastle’s squad will be tested by the demands of the Europa League’s group stage should United win their qualifier in late August.
And that could be spell trouble for the Premier League’s defenders, as Ameobi – who stands at 6ft 4.5ins – is still growing.
“Sammy’s had one of those breakthrough seasons, to a degree,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“The injury’s sort of hampered his progress, but next year’s a big year for him. He’s grown another inch, as well – he’s about 6ft 8ins!
“Sammy and Ferguson are the two from within who have really been a bonus for me.”
Ferguson – who can play at left back, or on the wing – didn’t see much football in the first half of the campaign, but the 20-year-old pressed his claims in the last few months of the season.
The Northern Ireland international was sent on with an attacking brief in some games, and a defensive role in others.
And Pardew sees Ferguson’s versatility as a strength, not a weakness.
Asked what his best position is, Pardew added: “I don’t think it matters to him.
“I think he can play wherever I put him, a bit like Jonas (Gutierrez) has proven at central midfield, left back and wide up on the left of a front three.
“Shane will get more involved. Ferguson’s a player who’s knocking on the door strongly.”