Ameobi commits to Newcastle

Newcastle striker Shola Ameobi handed manager Joe Kinnear a welcome boost today by signing a three-year contract extension.

The 27-year-old, one of four men to be offered new deals last month, became the first to put pen to paper.

Today's news completes a remarkable turnaround for the former England Under-21 international, who spent the latter part of last season on loan at Stoke and rejected a permanent move to the Britannia Stadium, prompting enquiries from Ipswich and Norwich.

Ameobi, whose stay on Tyneside will now extend until the summer of 2012, told the club's official website, www.nufc.co.uk: "I'm delighted to sign a new deal and commit my future to Newcastle United."

Kinnear will now hope for similar responses from key midfielder Nicky Butt and goalkeeper Steve Harper, who also received offers in December, although he will have to wait until the end of the season for a decision from Michael Owen.

Nigeria-born Ameobi, who was brought up on Tyneside from the age of five, emerged from the ranks at St James' Park under Sir Bobby Robson, making his senior debut as a substitute against Chelsea in September 2000.

He has 244 appearances to his name, 100 of them as a substitute, and is one short of 50 goals for the club.

However, injuries have played a major part in his career to date and he spent five months on the sidelines after finally undergoing surgery on a troublesome hip problem in November 2006 which had hampered him for some time.

Ameobi missed Saturday's 0-0 FA Cup third round draw at Hull with a hamstring strain and will hope to be able to return for the Barclays Premier League clash with West Ham at St James' Park at the weekend.

Kinnear is currently attempting to strengthen his injury-ravaged squad following the opening of the winter transfer window with the club lying just two points clear of the relegation zone.

He was without Ameobi, Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins, Habib Beye, Claudio Cacapa, Joey Barton Alan Smith and Ignacio Gonzalez at the KC Stadium, while unsettled keeper Shay Given has been linked with a move away from Tyneside this month after voicing his frustration at the club's plight.

Ameobi added he was now determined to repay Kinnear and the club for keeping faith with him during his time out.

He told NUFC TV: "I hadn't played for a while and had to prove myself again. Thankfully I believe I did that.

"Now I can look forward to playing a lot more games for Newcastle, which didn't look likely a few months ago.

"I believe I can do that and now my future is in order I can focus on getting it right on the pitch.

"I am confident I can do it and the club are also, which they have shown by their faith with the contract.

"Now it's down to me to prove that."

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