Shola Ameobi's Nigeria call-up rumpus

ALAN Pardew is planning "discussions" with Shola striker Ameobi as Newcastle United head for a club-versus-county battle with Nigeria.

Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi
Newcastle United's Shola Ameobi

ALAN Pardew is planning "discussions" with Shola striker Ameobi as Newcastle United head for a club-versus-county battle with Nigeria.

The Super Eagles selected the older Ameobi brother as one of 11 foreign-based players for their friendly with Venezuela in Miami next week in a move which has significance for the Magpies.

A former England under-21 international, Ameobi is now eligible to play for the country of his birth after Nigeria received clearance from Fifa.

Coach Stephen Keshi has put the ball in Newcastle’s court by picking him for the upcoming trip to the States.

Ever the diplomat, Pardew was tight-lipped about the club’s willingness to let Ameobi make the long journey to America, but he knows it would provide problems for Newcastle if Ameobi accepts the invitation.

Nigeria qualified for January’s African Cup of Nations tournament and losing one of his senior strikers would be an unforeseen blow for Pardew, who dodged a bullet when Senegal were knocked out in the qualifiers by the Ivory Coast last month.

Pardew had contended Newcastle would need to sign a striker to cover the club if both Papiss Cissé and Demba Ba spent January on international duty, but it would be more difficult to make the same case to Mike Ashley if Ameobi travelled – raising the prospect of negotiating a tough period with a limited pool of forwards.

There is also the thorny issue of Ameobi’s injury record, with long-haul trips hardly likely to keep him fit.

Pardew said: “It is a discussion myself and Shola have had before and we will have again.”

Nigeria have long coveted the services of the 31-year-old and made overtures to call him up last year, only to find out Ameobi had not yet rfeceived clearance from Fifa to make him eligible to change allegiance.

Whether Ameobi, having turned down the opportunity to play for the Super Eagles in the past, will want to grasp a final chance to play international football is another matter.

Tonight will be a significant moment for the Ameobi family, with both brothers set to start for the first time.

Pardew added: “He will start against Club Brugge – and it will be the first time Shola and Sammy will start together because Sammy will play too.”

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