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Boro spell will help Ameobi hit new heights
HELPING Middlesbrough to a top six finish is still the short-term goal for Sammy Ameobi, but the talented forward is confident of returning to Newcastle United a better player regardless of whether he is involved in a promotion party.
Ameobi has started three games for Boro since moving on loan until the end of the season and has been unable to prevent a slide outside the play-off spot.
But while retaining optimism that Middlesbrough can close the five-point gap to sixth-spot in the final eight matches of the season, the 20-year-old is also thinking of the longer-term benefits to his career.
"I needed to be playing in matches, and it's been great to have the involvement I've had," said Ameobi. "But it's probably been just as important to feel like an integral part of something.
"That's not really something I've had in my career so far and I've enjoyed it. I love Newcastle, but being a young lad coming through the ranks means you're inevitably on the fringe of things a bit.
"It doesn't feel like that at Middlesbrough - I feel like part of a team where they see me as a big part of things. It's good to have that feeling hanging over your head."
Ameobi's ambitions are strong and is intent on becoming a first team regular at Newcastle, although that should not detract from the aims he has while wearing a Middlesbrough shirt.
He said: "We can still make the play-offs. That's still the major aim. I genuinely think we still have every chance of getting there. There's still plenty of points to play for and I'm just looking forward to the next game. Hopefully, we can win that and progress and still get to the play-offs."
After a blistering Boro debut was capped by a stunning opening goal in the 2-1 victory over Cardiff City on March 2, things have not gone to plan since.
Three straight defeats to Huddersfield, Bristol City and Birmingham have lad to Tony Mowbray reflecting that Boro need six wins from their remaining eight games to stand a chance of finishing in the play-offs.
Ameobi has played in two of those reversals and not shown the sort of quality that was evident on his match-winning debut. He is, he says, learning fast.
"The nature of the games is very different in the Championship," said the England Under-21 international. "It hasn't been easy, and the physical demands are very different to when you play in the Premier League.
"The ball turns over a lot more in the Championship and you have to adjust to that. That's something I've been trying to do in training every day, and I've placed great importance in trying to keep up with my fitness. Getting games under your belt helps in that respect as well.
"But it's been great and I'm really enjoying my time there. I really need some game time and it's good to feel like a bigger part of a team than I've probably been in the past. Hopefully I can put in some more good performances before I come back to Newcastle at the end of the season."
Ameobi was back at St James' Park this week as a guest at Newcastle United Foundation's inaugural Hall of Fame dinner and was happy to help out.
"It's a massively important thing," he said. "Growing up, me and by brother Shola (Ameobi) didn't have much, but we're obviously in a very privileged position at the minute, so it's great to give something back to the community. I'm glad to be here."