Newcastle's in-form striker Shola Ameobi has given Alan Pardew a selection headache

Shola Ameobi: Newcastle striker could have earned a starting spot against Manchester United

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Newcastle boss Alan Pardew believes Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse could be forced to fight for their places up front if Shola Ameobi continues his fine form.

The Senegalese pair have forged a fruitful strike partnership and Ba has netted six goals this season, while Cisse claimed his second of the campaign in Thursday night's 3-0 Europa League win over Bordeaux.

But Ameobi staked his claim for a continued role with a goal against the French club and Pardew admits he is pushing for a place ahead of Sunday's clash at Manchester United.

He said: "All our strikers have scored this week - Shola has scored, Demba has scored, Papiss has scored and if I am honest, Shola is playing at the same level as the other two and he is in contention to start this game.

"That's great news for us because it breeds competition.

"Shola is always desperate to play. Our fans now realise how important he is to us whereas I think in the past, they didn't.

"He is improving as he gets older. He is maturing like a good wine."

Ameobi has been forced to wait patiently for his chance, but he remains determined to cement a regular spot in the side.

He said: "The manager picks the team, but I am available and every time I pull on that shirt, I am trying to show him, I am trying to prove to him I am worth a starting place in the Premier League.

"I can only do what I can do, try to play as hard as I can and as well as I can. If he picks me, then fantastic, I'll be ready to go, that's for sure."