Joe Kinnear has reassured Shola Ameobi that he will not be shunned in favour of fit-again Mark Viduka.
Ameobi had to settle for a place on the bench in the Magpies' 0-0 draw with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with Kinnear favouring Michael Owen in his starting line-up.
The Toon boss, though, insists Ameobi is still held in high regard and should not be worried by the club's current overflow of strikers.
Speaking of his selection decision, Kinnear told The Chronicle: "It was a difficult decision for me to make because both Shola and Obafemi Martins have been scoring goals for us.
"But when I took Shola to one side on Saturday morning in a little one-to-one chat and told him he was on the bench, he could not have taken it better.
"Obviously he was disappointed, but he told me he understood my decision, and that he was part of the squad and that it was the team which mattered most."
Ameobi will be hoping to start in Saturday's derby tie at the Riverside Stadium, a ground where he has twice scored the winner for the Magpies.
Currently leading the way with his goal tally, the 27-year-old will have stiff competition with Martins, Viduka and Owen all available for selection.
"I feel we have a good balance with our men up-front," added Kinnear.
"We have Oba's pace, Michael's technical ability as a goal scorer and the power of Viduka and Ameobi."