Shola closes in on World Cup spot as Newcastle consider options

The Northern Echo: World cup bound? Shola Ameobi is in Nigeria's 30-man squad World cup bound? Shola Ameobi is in Nigeria's 30-man squad

SHOLA AMEOBI has edged a step closer to fulfilling his World Cup dream after being named in Nigeria's provisional 30-man squad.

Many feared the 32-year-old's place on the plane to South America was under threat because of his lack of football at Newcastle United.

But national team coach Stephen Keshi has stayed faithful and included him in his extended group – which must be cut to 23 by June 2.

There are also a number of forwards still at Keshi's disposal, despite overlooking former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins for the Brazil finals.

Stoke City's Peter Odemwingie has been recalled to the squad, while Liverpool's on loan Chelsea man Victor Moses is one of nine forwards included in the provisional pool of players.

Ameobi's return to the fold under Alan Pardew on Tyneside could not have arrived at a better time and he will hope to maintain his recent standards in the final Premier League game of the season at Liverpool on Sunday.

The Zaria-born front-man has scored in each of his last two starts for Newcastle. He scored in the 2-1 defeat to Swansea and in Saturday's 3-0 win over Cardiff City, even though he was left out of the trip to Arsenal sandwiched in between.

Despite playing 28 times this season, the majority of those have been when he has been introduced from the bench.

But his late decent form should ensure he starts at Anfield, which could yet mark the end of more than a decade playing for Newcastle's first team.

Ameobi is out of contract this summer and, despite hints of a fresh deal, he has regularly suggested during the last campaign that signing off with a dream World Cup spot would be perfect at his age.

Pardew, the Newcastle boss, is on the look out for reinforcements ahead of next season. Given how the futures of Loic Remy and Luuk De Jong, on loan from QPR and Borussia Monchengladbach respectively, are likely to be away from St James' Park, Ameobi's departure would leave another hole.

Newcastle's recruitment team have already started the process of sifting through potential targets, with players at home and abroad being considered.

The name of an old target, Bafetimbi Gomis, has resurfaced. The France international will become a free agent in the summer when his contract at Lyon expires.

Despite scoring 14 goals this season, his previous disputes with his employers over wanting to leave are unlikely to see him stay.

Marseille are also credited with an interest. Gomis said: “We'll see what happens next season, I will speak in due time. For now, I'm still Lyon. But interest from Marseille is flattering.”

Newcastle are also interested in Gomis' Lyon team-mate Alexandre Lacazette, 22. Liverpool, Arsenal, Juventus and AC Milan are also monitoring the situation, though, and he is under contract until 2016.

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