I’m no longer a kid at Newcastle — Ameobi

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Sammy Ameobi has targeted more opportunities in Newcastle United’s first team in 2013 and he is determined to help fire the club back towards the UEFA Champions League.

The 20-year-old forward has made just 11 appearances for the St James’ Park club this season and five of those have come in the Europa League.

But Ameobi, who made his first-team debut in May 2011, would like to force his way into manager Alan Pardew’s starting XI plans on a regular basis.

“I want to be playing a lot more football,” he told Sky Sports when speaking at the Need for Speed Most Wanted Pro Player tournament ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers.

“I feel like I am passed the stage where I am the new kid on the block. I want to start making a difference.”

It will not be a simple task for Ameobi when facing competition for attacking places from the likes of star striker Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, older brother Shola Ameobi, fellow winger Hatem Ben Arfa and the versatile Jonas Gutierrez.

However, Ameobi is also developing his game by educating himself on the performances of his more experienced club-mates.

“It keeps you on your toes, really,” said Ameobi, who sees himself as a winger, when asked about Newcastle’s attacking options.

“It is never easy getting into the first team, especially with the great players we have. There is no slacking.

“It is a case of watching and learning from players in your position. I am still learning the game and I am looking forward to continuing to do that.”

Newcastle will likely need all of their squad to play a part in the second half of the season as they bid to rescue a disappointing 2012/13 which had started with dreams of finishing in the Premier League’s top four.

After last season’s impressive fifth-placed finish, targets of the Champions League were not out of the question but the Tyneside club currently find themselves in 15th position with just 17 points from 17 games after a run of six defeats in seven matches.

But when questioned whether the players were still up for the challenge, Ameobi replied: “Of course. Obviously we were unfortunate not to get anything out of last weekend’s Manchester City game.

“But there were positives to take out of the game. We took that into training and through the week and hopefully we can come out and get a win against QPR.

“We looked like we were going to come back and get at least a point against City but left it a bit too late. That is the story of Newcastle, I think.

“We have just left it too late to get back into the game. We have been playing some good football but just need to do that at 0-0.

“Obviously everyone wants to be on the front foot from kick-off and I think that is something we have lacked over the last few weeks. Hopefully we will get back on track.”

Newcastle’s slump has coincided with owner Mike Ashley’s decision at the end of September to give Pardew a staggering eight-year contract.

The club have averaged just 0.75 points-per-game since then, losing seven games and conceding 20 goals in the process, but Pardew still has the full backing of his players.

“Especially for me as a young lad, he is all about encouragement,” said Ameobi. “He keeps me going and keeps the boys working hard.

“He will never say a bad thing about us. Encouragement is the thing we need at the moment, because we are not doing too well.”

Critics have suggested Newcastle’s domestic struggles are due to their participation in the Europa League, which has meant they have already played 26 games in all competitions.

They will renew their continental campaign in February when taking on Metalist Kharkiv in the last 32, having been drawn against the Ukraine club in Thursday’s draw for the knockout stages.

But Ameobi is relishing the chance to play in Europe, as he said: “I have really enjoyed it. It gives more opportunities to young boys like me and people on the fringes.

“We need experience as young boys. It is something we can take on.

“The style of play is not as quick as the Premier League but it is maybe more technical. It is not easy at all but the pace is not as high intensity.

“For me, it is a stepping stone, as it is for a lot of the young players. I am enjoying every bit of it.”

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