Shola Ameobi could further delay Loic Remy’s full Newcastle United debut after continuing his goalscoring form in Kaduna yesterday.
The 31-year-old scored his first goal for Nigeria in a 4-1 win over Burkino Faso.
It was only an international friendly, and manager Alan Pardew must weigh against the boost to Ameobi’s morale the wearying effects of the long-haul flight home, but it was another indication that the striker is in good form after being allowed to continue a Newcastle career that looked to have run its course.
The expectation had been that Ameobi would look to leave this summer, partly to enhance his chances of playing at the Brazil World Cup – and that Newcastle would not stand in his way.
But director of football Joe Kinnear’s failure to sign the two or more strikers Pardew wanted in the transfer window has given another opportunity to a forward he was always very fond of in his time as manager.
Ameobi was Newcastle’s top-scorer in pre-season and is one of only three players to have found the net for them in the campaign proper. He and younger brother Sammy made Magpies history by becoming the first siblings to score in the same match when they netted against Morecambe in the League Cup.
Hatem Ben Arfa then scored Newcastle’s first Premier League goal of the season at home to Fulham.
Ameobi has started two of United’s three league matches this term, while Remy has been getting up to speed. The Frenchman had a thigh problem when he joined on loan from Queens Park Rangers and did not play any pre-season football.
It delayed his Newcastle debut until the Fulham game, when he came off the bench to play the last 16 minutes.
Like Yohan Cabaye, Remy was not included in France’s squad for the current round of international fixtures, allowing him extra time to prepare for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
Considering the number of French players in their squad, Newcastle did not have a single representative in Les Bleus’ line-up for last night’s World Cup qualifier in Belarus.
Cabaye’s absence from the squad was a surprise, and perhaps a result of the effect his attempt to leave in the transfer window had on him mentally and physically. But Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko were on the bench last night. Meanwhile, Newcastle’s trip to Swansea City is their latest fixture to be moved.
The game at the Liberty Stadium will not be shown on television, but has been delayed 24 hours to December 24 because of Swansea’s European commitments. It will kick off at 7.45pm.
The televised Wear-Tyne derby was moved to a 1.30pm kick-off this week at the request of the police.