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Ameobi's Nigeria delight
Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi admits he has manager Alan Pardew's blessing as he embarks on an international career with Nigeria.
Ameobi is in the squad for tomorrow night's friendly against Venezuela in Miami, Florida and the Newcastle man could take part in the 2013 African Cup of Nations in South Africa. At the beginning of the season, one of Pardew's main worries was the potential loss of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse to the event with Senegal, but after they failed to qualify, he now stands to lose Cheik Tiote (Ivory Coast) and Ameobi. However, Ameobi has Pardew's blessing to represent Nigeria and admits he can't wait to link up with the squad, which also includes former Newcastle team-mate Obafemi Martins and Chelsea's John Obi Mikel.
"I think with my age and the travelling, that's what he's (Pardew) worried about," the 31-year-old said.
"You don't get back until later, you don't get much time to recover but it's something that we will look at and make sure I'm not doing a disservice to the club.
"Newcastle United will always be number one for me, that is the bread and butter so that is something we'll look at. But he's delighted for me, as you'd expect because he wants a squad full of internationals here.
"Miami isn't a bad one to start off with! The main thing is I go there, establish a relationship with the manager and other players and we go from there. Then I want to get back for Swansea and get the win on the board."
After representing England at Under-21 level, Ameobi applied to FIFA for permission to switch allegiances and, although that was granted over a year ago, Ameobi has just received his first call up. The Zaria-born striker lived in Nigeria for the first five years of his life before parents, John and Margaret, decided to uproot to Tyneside, where Ameobi was spotted by Newcastle scouts playing for Walker Central Boys Club. His journey to becoming an Nigerian international has been a long one and despite his age the striker admits it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
"The rules were changed a few years ago and that's when I made the decision to commit to Nigeria," Ameobi explained.
"Unfortunately with trying to get the authorisation from FIFA it has taken a couple of years which has slowed the process down.
"I'm really excited. Nigeria is where I'm from, that's my heritage and I've never forgotten my roots.''
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