Town back in for Ameobi - face Canary battle

IPSWICH Town are today ready to go back in for Shola Ameobi but face a battle with rivals Norwich City to snatch the Newcastle United striker.

Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town are today ready to go back in for Shola Ameobi but face a battle with rivals Norwich City to snatch the Newcastle United striker.

Blues boss Jim Magilton will swoop if David Nugent continues stalling and signing either striker will pave the way for Alan Lee to move to Crystal Palace in a £500,000 switch.

It is understood Palace chairman Simon Jordan has been told they can have Lee once Ipswich have secured reinforcements up front.

Neil Warnock wants Lee to put pressure on James Scowcroft and Town have already made it clear they would sell.

Hull City did not meet their valuation last summer, while Burnley made a tentative move for him in January.

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The Blues and Canaries boss Glenn Roeder, who managed Ameobi when he was the Newcastle manager, both made a move to sign him during the close season but getting games in friendlies revived the player's hopes that he still had a future at St James' Park and he was not interested in a move.

But the injuries that briefly opened the door then affected him as he picked up a hamstring problem and he has slipped down the pecking order with Obefami Martins, Michael Owen and Mark Viduka already ahead of him.

Ameobi now accepts his future may lay elsewhere and is now prepared to see what else is on offer.

Ameobi said: “I've always said that I want to play football. Newcastle were my team when I grew up and that's who I want to play for but at the end of the day, football comes first for me.

“I've always said if regular football doesn't happen here for me I'll have to go somewhere else. But I'm still hoping I can get a chance here. It's up to me to work hard and try to force my way into the team.

“I've done that in pre-season and it's been nice to be back involved in the first team and with the lads. Hopefully I can go on and impress the manager in the next couple of games.

“At the moment I'm just working hard and making sure I'm ready regardless of where my future lies.”

Stoke City and West Brom have also expressed more than a passing interest for the 26-year-old who has been valued at £3m by United.

Ameobi has begged Newcastle not to price him out of the market but at the same time the Magpies know at least four clubs are interested in the former England Under-21 player.

“I'm just trying to work hard and stay fit, which is first and foremost with me. However it pans out, that's football, but I just want to make sure I'm there ready to do a job whether it be here or wherever.

“I hope that it will not be the case that I get priced out of a move.

“If the club don't want me I've been a faithful servant to the club, I've been no problem, so hopefully in a perfect world that (being allowed to leave for a reasonable price) would happen.

“But in football you never know, so I'm just hoping and working hard.”

It could end up being something of a Dutch auction with Newcastle lowering the price gradually until a bid is made with the interested parties all trying to hold their nerve and not pay over the odds.

With the Premier League now allowing seven substitutes on the bench, only three are allowed to play, Ameobi could make the squad to face Manchester United on Saturday with Owen struggling with a calf injury, but actually getting on is unlikely.

- Ben Thatcher has yet to agree to sign for Ipswich Town despite having a medical with the club yesterday.

Thatcher also had a medical with West Ham who have offered him a contract but the defender has yet to make a final decision. Magilton expects to hear this morning from the former Charlton left back if he has accepted the one year deal with an option to a second or has chosen to work once again with former boss Alan Curbishley.