Shola sets his sights

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Shola Ameobi admits had he not had an operation on a hip injury that has ruled him out for the season, then it could have had major repercussions on the rest of his career.

Earlier in the campaign and the Newcastle striker battled on through the pain to help ease the club's injury crisis but eventually had to go under the surgeon's knife in order to correct the problem.

The powerful front man had looked likely to be granted the extended run in Glenn Roeder's first team that he has always craved, in place of the retired Alan Shearer, but injury has robbed him of the opportunity to establish himself as a first choice in black and white.

While conceding he has cut a frustrated figure in the stands, Ameobi believes there was no alternative other than to relent to the problem and it is with renewed optimism that he is looking forward to making his comeback next season.

"(It's been) very frustrating indeed, mainly because I knew I needed to step up and fill the hole left by Alan Shearer, so it was going to be a big season for me," said Ameobi, speaking exclusively in this week's Sport magazine.

"But as I say, I saw it coming and all I can do is work on getting in perfect shape for next season.

"At this level you can't be going into games fearing for what might happen, you have to go in and be fully focused on playing your game.

"Obviously I couldn't play my normal game and the Newcastle fans weren't seeing the best of me.

"It's been tough for me and for them, but having the operation was a relief because it got to the stage where if I had played on, it could have ended my career.

"I have to think about life after football and being able to walk normally once I've hung up my boots."

After a miserable start to the campaign Newcastle have picked up considerably and are now pushing for a European spot and Ameobi sees no reason why St James' Park will not be hosting top level football next season.

"I think a place in the top six is definitely still within our reach. I'm confident we can get there.

"We know we should be up there and we know we can bridge the gap and push the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal."

You can catch the full interview with Ameobi in Sport Magazine which is out on Friday.