Could Shola be leaving Newcastle?

First published in Football The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

SHOLA AMEOBI has told Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew that it could be time to end his 18-year association with his hometown club this summer.

The 31-year-old striker, entering the final year of his contract, has not started a Premier League game since January 19 and has found his opportunities limited despite a shortage of strikers.

It is a situation which has led Ameobi to contemplate whether or not it is the time to try a new challenge, knowing he is entering the final period of his career.

The Tyneside-raised Nigerian-born forward first signed schoolboy forms with the club in 1995 and has gone on to make more than 200 starts since his first team debut against Chelsea in September 2000.

And speaking yesterday Pardew admitted Newcastle could lose him along with other senior players Steve Harper and Fabricio Coloccini, who has expressed a desire to return to South America, before the start of next season.

Pardew said: "Shola has a year left and I have already spoken to him, perhaps being here next year or what do you want to do? He is a little bit undecided about what he wants to do.

“With Shola too, we could lose two or three experienced players this summer.”

While Ameobi and Coloccini still have time to run on their existing contracts, Harper will become a free agent on July 1 along with Danny Simpson.

The full-back, signed from Manchester United by Chris Hughton in August 2009, has been unable to agree new terms after initially rejecting an offer that was put on the table.

And following the January arrivals of French full-backs Mathieu Debuchy and Massadio Haidara, Pardew thinks Simpson's time on Tyneside has come to an end.

“Danny has played his last game for us. His contract is up and I think we would have renewed it by now,” said the Newcastle boss. “He has been terrific for me as the manager and I think there are two emotions with Danny.

“One is that he has been a great player for me, even at this late stage when he got called up against West Ham he was absolutely terrific and he has always given me everything. I know he will find a Premier League club but it will not be this one.

"I think it was fairly obvious that we were not able to do a financial deal. It all needs to line up. It is not about bad relationships or anything like that. I have a strong personal relationship with Danny. I think he is a terrific lad and any Premier League club that takes him, will have signed a terrific player.”

With Simpson unlikely to face Arsenal tomorrow, his final appearance will be to walk around the St James' Park at the end of the match with his young daughter to wave goodbye.

Newcastle are keen to finish a dreadful domestic campaign on a high with a victory over Arsenal which could seriously damage their grip on the fourth and final Champions League spot.

Newcastle have impressed at times on Tyneside soil, but heavy recent defeats to Sunderland and Liverpool highlighted the team's deficiencies and raised question marks over communication problems within the squad.

And Pardew said: "I have looked at some of my players, even before the start of the QPR away game and I felt it was not a true reflection of the players that I see in training because of the pressure we are under.

“Now, of course, that pressure has lifted considerably and you can sense that on the training ground. Hopefully, we can sense it in the game and play with a little more freedom.

“We have really worked hard in games but we have lacked a little bit of cohesion and subtlety in our game and that comes from trying to rush and force things.

“Hopefully we will play a much more relaxed game on Sunday. It does not mean to say we are going to be relaxed. The pressure is off this club now, this is a huge club and to carry that burden onto the pitch is a real pressure.

“People talk to me about me being under pressure but on the sidelines, it is much easier for me, trust me, than for the players who are having to play.”

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