Shola Ameobi

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

More than 11 years after he first represented Newcastle United in Europe, Shola Ameobi will captain the Magpies as they take on Maritimo on Thursday (kick-off 6pm).

And the frontman, who has scored against likes of Barcelona and Bayer Leverkusen in previous campaigns and has 12 European goals in all to his name, admits it's great to be back in continental competition.

Trips to places like the San Siro and the Nou Camp were regular occurences when he first broke through under Sir Bobby Robson and his debut in foreign competition came away to Lokeren in July 2001.

But it's been five years since they last competed in Europe and Ameobi now finds himself one of the most experienced players in the United squad which flew out to Funchal ahead of the game at the Estadio do Barreiros.

The 30-year-old is set to skipper the side having returned from injury against Everton on Monday to set up Demba Ba's late leveller, and he told nufc.co.uk that he will relish passing on what he knows to the likes of Haris Vuckic, Adam Campbell, James Tavernier, Gael Bigirimana, Romain Amalfitano and Mehdi Abeid.

"We've got a lot of games this year and the manager's said he's going to use the whole squad - which I think he has to, because we're not that big a squad anyway," he said.

"And I'll be looking to hopefully get a few more minutes in some shape or form on Thursday and hopefully help us get our European adventure off to a good start.

"Obviously it's something I was used to year in, year out when I first came into the team," added the man with a total of 41 appearances in the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Intertoto Cup.

"So it's great to be back and hopefully we can just go out there, learn as we go along and progress as far as we can."