Future is bright for Newcastle outcast as Benitez hails display v Rotherham
By Matt Farr
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez was full of praise for winger Sammy Ameobi following Saturday’s win over Rotherham.
Ameobi has cut a frustrated figure at St. James’ Park in recent seasons, having last appeared for the Magpies in the 1-1 draw with West Brom two seasons ago.
However, he returned to the fray for Benitez’s side on Saturday, coming off the bench to help Newcastle to a convincing 4-o victory over Rotherham in the Championship.
He replaced Yoan Gouffran in the 64th minute to a warm ovation from the Newcastle fans, and following the game, Benitez admitted his delight at Ameobi’s cameo display.
He told the Newcastle Chronicle: “He did well, the fans were happy with him. He started the game really well. We know he has the quality and he has to show this on the pitch.
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“He is training really well and I am pleased for him. We knew we needed a player like him who can bring quality in the wider area and he showed some of that [against Rotherham].”
Having been used only sparingly in the last two years by Newcastle, Ameobi’s long-term future at the club was rife with speculation this month.
The former England U21 international spent the last two seasons on loan at Cardiff and Bolton, but did not extend his stay at the Macron Stadium after the two clubs failed to agree terms.
Benitez made the decision to recall Ameobi, as his attacking resources have been left somewhat depleted by the departure of Christian Atsu and Mo Diame to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Strikers Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic, as well as winger Rolando Aarons, meanwhile, remain injured.
Ameobi now has what could be his final chance to make a career at Newcastle, and made a decent impression on his long-awaited return.
He could be handed a start when Newcastle take on Oxford on the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.
In other Newcastle news, Benitez has revealed his expected return date for Aleksandar Mitrovic.