Rafa Benitez has his say on the role of Sammy Ameobi and Jamie Sterry at Newcastle

Painful: Sammy Ameobi gets stood on by QPR's Joel Lynch in midweek. Picture by Frank Reid
Painful: Sammy Ameobi gets stood on by QPR's Joel Lynch in midweek. Picture by Frank Reid

Rafa Benitez feels Sammy Ameobi can make a contribution to Newcastle United’s Championship campaign.

Ameobi returned from a half-season loan at League One club Bolton Wanderers last month.

The 24-year-old – who is out of contract in the summer – came off the bench in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw against Queens Park Rangers.

And Ameobi could again be on the bench for this afternoon’s home game against Derby County.

Benitez – who told Ameobi that he wasn’t in his plans last summer – had been looking for United to sign a midfielder and a winger in last month’s transfer window.

But the club didn’t make a single signing in January.

And Ameobi and defender Jamie Sterry, back from a half-season loan at Coventry City, are now important members of Benitez’s squad for the second half of the campaign.

Asked about Ameobi’s return to the fold, United manager Benitez said: “Normally, when you prepare your squad, you have an idea.

“Look at Rolando Aarons. He had a cruciate ligament injury. You have to fix that problem.

“Sammy has been great for us, working hard in training, since the first day, and when he goes on the pitch he gives you quality.

“Sterry is also coming back and will increase competition.”

Benitez feels he can improve Ameobi and Sterry on the training pitch.

“You have to be sure to improve your players and make sure they give their best,” said Benitez.

Meanwhile, Benitez has spoken about his relationship with Derby head coach Steve McClaren, his predecessor at St James’s Park.

“I had contact with him when he left,” he said.

“We have a good relationship, and we’ll have a drink afterwards.

“Hopefully, we’ll have three points.”