Glenn Roeder's firm belief that his long-time strike target Shola Ameobi would only want to play in the Premiership could yet be put to the test from the most unlikely of quarters as Toronto FC add his name to that of Darren Huckerby on their list of 'Most Wanted'.
The future of the 26-year-old Newcastle United star is currently right back in the melting pot after he reportedly indicated that he would be none too keen on pursuing a full-time move to newly-promoted Stoke City after an indifferent end-of-season loan spell under Tony Pulis' charge.
Ameobi failed to feature at all in the Potters final game of the season at home to Leicester City and with owner Peter Coates distancing himself from reports of a ?4 million full-time move being automatically triggered should the Britannia Ground be playing host to top flight football, Ameobi has now returned to his native North-East where he is due to get married this summer.
With Magpies boss Kevin Keegan banking on Ameobi being out of the door this summer – and all with a substantial cheque coming in the other way – the pressure will now be on Newcastle's transfer supremo Dennis Wise finding another buyer.
Up on Tyneside and local reports had two clubs in the frame – Norwich and near-neighbours Middlesbrough. If Ameobi wishes to stay in the North-East and, ever true to his Newcastle roots, would not look at a move to the banks of the Wear with Sunderland, then Boro' look the obvious option.
But various, further-flung members of the so-called 'Geordie Nation' may have other ideas – most notably the Roeder-Lee Clark combination in Norfolk and, on the far side of the Atlantic, Toronto FC coach John Carver who threw his hat into the ring in last night's Evening Chronicle.
“I need some firepower up front and I am looking for new players, especially a striker,” said the former Newcastle coach – the man famously on the receiving end of a furious onslaught by ex-Canary striker Craig Bellamy. One which, reportedly, involved a chair being flung in Carver's direction in the middle of Newcastle Airport in a row over car parking.
In amidst it all, Carver was also watching Ameobi emerge through the ranks of the Newcastle youth system – hence Toronto's interest in the out-of-favour Newcastle star.
“Shola is a kid I brought through the system at Newcastle United, and a kid I know an awful lot about,” said Carver. “If I can get Shola into this football club he would be a huge, huge asset for us.”
Toronto certainly appear to be on an ambitious recruitment drive with San Jose Earthquake boss Frank Yallop recently confirming that 32-year-old Huckerby was firmly on the Canadian club's target list – speculation that Huckerby has done little to dampen as he looks for a new employer that doesn't entail facing his beloved Norwich again at Carrow Road.
Unbeaten in their last five games, Toronto still find themselves sixth out of seven in the current Eastern Standings having scored just eight goals from their 11 league games. Hence Carver's determination – and that of the club's Director of Soccer Mo Johnston – to bolt on some genuine attacking threat. Be that in the shape of either Ameobi or Huckerby. Or both.
“I've got my side organised now and have made Toronto difficult to beat, but I need to sign players in that area,” Carver told the Evening Chronicle.
Quizzed recently about his on-going thoughts on Ameobi, Roeder did not deviate too wildly from his traditional script – that he was a player that he liked. But…
“Shola Ameobi is a player that I like – whether Shola Ameobi is prepared to drop into the Championship, I don't know,” said the City chief, in his end of season Press briefing.
You sensed that Middlesbrough might now be in the box seat – Premiership football and no need to move his new bride out of their North-East home. And then there would be the question of the reported ?4 million price tag.
“All paper talk; all paper talk,” said Roeder, the depth of his summer transfer kitty the subject of endless speculation.
“And, to be honest, I don't even want to really talk about what Newcastle might meant to be getting or not meant to be getting. I don't think Kevin Keegan would enjoy me talking about one of his players, so we'll drop it there.”
That said, the departure of Dion Dublin and the return of Ched Evans to his full-time employer, Manchester City, leaves the Canary manager woefully short of an out-and-out, old fashioned, physical centre-forward.
Jamie Cureton certainly doesn't fit the 'big man' bill; Chris Martin is closer, but needs – in the manager's words – “a canon-ball to drop” this summer before he figures large in the manager's thinking.
With David Strihavka long-since returned to his East European sender, someone, somewhere has to fit the bill and be one of the centre-pieces of Roeder's summer rebuilding plans. Southampton's Polish international striker Grzegorz Rasiak was, by many an account, on Roeder's most-wanted list in January.
Having returned to St Mary's following an inconclusive loan spell at Bolton Wanderers, the Saints' chronic financial woes will force them to move Rasiak and his reported ?14,000-a-week wage bill on this summer.
That all said, Ameobi clearly remains a tantalising prospect – particularly for as long as Roeder has the likes of Clark, Matty Pattison and motivational guru and ex-Newcastle night-club doorman Steve Black up his sleeve.
“I believe he is a Premiership player full stop,” said Roeder, who – the records suggest – brought the best out of Ameobi in his spell in charge at St James' Park.
“I don't believe – I know he is,” added the City boss. “When I was at Newcastle, he was knocking in a goal every three games. He'd blitz the Championship.
“If I was Shola Ameobi I would only want to play in the Premiership. But who knows? Let's wait and see…
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