Competition for places is driving United forward, says Ameobi

INJURY BLOW ... Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi.
INJURY BLOW ... Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi.

SHOLA Ameobi claimed a point with a stunning goal on his last appearance – but the striker knows he could again find himself on Newcastle United’s bench.

Fit-again Ameobi is pushing for a start against struggling Wigan Athletic at St James’s Park tomorrow.

The 30-year-old came off the bench to score a dramatic late equaliser in Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.

However, with Demba Ba and Leon Best also in form – and Hatem Ben Arfa ready to start his first Premier League game in more than a year – Ameobi could again be among the substitutes.

“It’s great for him as a manager – he’s got a dilemma picking teams,” Ameobi about Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.

“I think we’re all pushing each other. The XI who have the shirt know that there’s another 13 or 14 players pushing for a place. We’ve spoken about that. He has faith in the squad he has.

“In training, the XI that are playing are getting butchered off those that aren’t!

“That can only be good for us as a team. We’ve showed we have got strength in depth.”

This is Ameobi’s 12th first-team campaign, and the start fourth-placed Newcastle have made to the season under Alan Pardew this season eclipses any that have gone before it over the course of his career.

However, before a ball was kicked, the team was written off in some quarters after a troubled summer, but Ameobi said the turmoil didn’t faze him given what he’s experienced previously at the club.

“I’ve seen it all before – it’s water off a duck’s back to me,” he added. “I’ve been here 12 years, and we’ve had great teams that haven’t won anything.

“It doesn’t matter what personnel you have as long as you’re together and wanting to improve as a team and a squad. If you’re all pulling in the same direction, you can pull off amazing feats.

“We’ve never started this well since I’ve been in the side, but we’re not getting carried away. We’re just focused on Wigan. Confidence is a big thing in football, as it is in all sports.

“When you see your club right up there, it gives you confidence.”

Wigan, meanwhile, are one place off the bottom of the league after a poor start to the campaign. Ameobi said: “We’re on a great run of form, and we’ll be expected to win. We’ll have to make sure we’re on our game again.”

Meanwhile, captain Fabricio Coloccini sat out training yesterday.

“Colo missed training with a sore toe, but I think he’ll be fine,” said Pardew.

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