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Midfield void haunts Everton


Ameobi won't be disciplined by Nigeria

The Nigerian Football Federation has confirmed that no action will be taken against Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi for opting out of the African Cup of Nations.

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The 31-year-old made his international debut for the Super Eagles in November and was named in coach Stephen Keshi's 32-man preliminary squad for the tournament. Speaking in December, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew confirmed Ameobi would not be attending the tournament in South Africa with Ameobi refusing to honour his call-up.

Upon hearing the news the NFF stated its intention to contact FIFA over the situation in the same way Senegal did when Papiss Cissé failed to attend a friendly, with the striker consequently forced to miss the home game with Swansea in November.

Speaking on the matter, NFF board member Chris Green wished Ameobi and Millwall's Danny Shittu the best following their decision to opt out.

"We have decided to focus our energy on the players and officials going to the Nations Cup in South Africa," he said. "There's no point creating unnecessary distraction or pushing for sanctions when we have capable players in the Super Eagles.

"We have the rules firmly on our side to seek punishment but that will not make any positive contribution to our preparations. There are players in the squad who can deliver for Nigeria, so we can only wish Ameobi and Shittu all the best in England."

The news will come as a welcome boost to Pardew, who revealed after the club's 1-0 home win against Queens Park Rangers in December that he did not expect Ameobi to attend the tournament.

Despite the news, the striker will still miss this weekend's game against Norwich City through suspension after being dismissed in the 2-0 FA Cup defeat at Brighton last weekend. He will instead return for Newcastle's next home game against Reading in just under a fortnight's time.


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