By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Having been forced to wait for his chance under Alan Pardew this season, a determined Sammy Ameobi believes Thursday night's Europa League group fixture against Club Brugge offers him the ideal stage to show what he can do for club and country.
A pre-season hamstring strain disrupted the 20-year-old's preparations for the campaign after he missed the entire second half of last term with a knee injury and he only returned to action last month, with the trip to Maritimo his sole appearance at senior level so far.
Before his initial untimely setback, suffered in a Reserve game against Wigan last January, the Newcastle-born wideman had broken into the England under-21 side and during the summer he looked to have improved even further until limping out of a training session in Portugal.
However, he is expected to be given his first start in almost a year - and only his second for the club - when the Magpies host the Belgian side at St. James' Park and as he told nufc.co.uk in an exclusive interview, he's eager to impress.
"I haven't played in over a month now and I've just been waiting patiently for my opportunity," Ameobi explained after training on Wednesday.
"It's finally come so I'm really raring to go and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully I can make a good impression.
"I'm not nervous - I'm more excited really to get my opportunity again and hopefully I'll take it, play well and hopefully get some goals."
After missing five months of last season, it was hard luck on the Tyneside trickster to suffer another blow in pre-season having looked sharp against the likes of Fenerbahce, Monaco and SC Braga in friendly outings.
But he said: "That's the way football sometimes goes. Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't and unfortunately for me I got injured and I've had to wait patiently and work my way back to get into the team.
"It's been frustrating but I've just worked through it and I'm glad because I've got my opportunity now.
"I've had to just work my way back, really, because obviously after the injury my match fitness was very low.
"Every day in training I've been working hard and I'm almost back to full form now so hopefully I'll be able to show that tomorrow."
And while the younger brother of Shola Ameobi is still trying to make a name for himself in the Barclays Premier League, he may already be familiar to the more knowledgeable of Belgian football fans.
He won his second cap for England in a European Under-21 Championships qualifier in Mons last November, running the Rode Duivels' defence ragged.
"That was last season and I played well there," he admitted. "So hopefully I'll be able to show what I'm made of and get back into that team as well, not just Newcastle's.
"That's the next step. Obviously I've been injured but I'm trying to get back into the first-team so I can get back into the England set-up."
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