The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By An­drew Law­ton

JON Stead and Shola Ameobi have rolled back the years for Notts County in re­cent months – and Stead be­lieves the Magpies would be mad not to keep his strike part­ner.

A decade ago, it wouldn’t have been a sur­prise to see Stead and Ameobi bang­ing in the Premier League goals, but in 2017 they’ve been ter­ror­is­ing League Two de­fences.

Now 34 and 35 re­spec­tively, and un­der the tute­lage of 35-year-old man­ager Kevin Nolan, the duo’s ef­forts have helped lift County away from rel­e­ga­tion dan­ger over the past two months.

Nige­ria in­ter­na­tional Ameobi headed to Meadow Lane only in Fe­bru­ary, hav­ing been re­leased by Fleet­wood at the end of last sea­son. He had al­ready grabbed four goals be­fore this week­end, in ad­di­tion to do­ing a lot of the dirty work up front.

The for­mer New­cas­tle striker’s con­tract ex­pires at the end of the cam­paign.

“Shola has been fan­tas­tic. He set­tled in straight away and is such a calm­ing and po­lite char­ac­ter,” said Stead. “He’s been a joy to have in the dress­ing room, not only on the pitch but in and around train­ing with the younger lads, too. He is a true gent and pro­fes­sional.

“He’s been a breath of fresh air for me, too. He is a tar­get man and takes a lot of the knocks, which lets me run the chan­nels, which I pre­fer do­ing.

“We are caus­ing teams prob­lems to­gether. I am sure the club will do things to try to get him back here next sea­son.

“He has been such a big in­flu­ence, I hope they will look to ex­tend his con­tract. He is a vi­tal part of the squad and they would be mad not to keep him.”

Like Ameobi, Stead’s con­tract with County is up at the end of the sea­son and, with an of­fer from the US on the ta­ble, the striker ad­mits he is cur­rently in two minds whether to head over the pond or stay with the Magpies.


“I’m still not sure. I have days when I wake up and think I want to be on a plane and I have days when I want to be back here next sea­son,” he added. “I’m torn 50/50. We’ll have dis­cus­sions and I’ll have to sit down again with my fam­ily. It’ll prob­a­bly wait un­til the end of the sea­son.” There is less than ten months dif­fer­ence in age be­tween Stead and boss Nolan, but the for­mer Bradford and Huddersfield marks­man says he has loved work­ing un­der a con­tem­po­rary. County had lost ten straight league games when the for­mer New­cas­tle and West Ham mid­fielder took over as man­ager in Jan­uary, but he has led a re­vival. “The gaffer and his staff have been mas­sive in turn­ing things around,” ex­plained Stead. “It was wrong be­fore. It was not a good place to come and work – it was a re­ally de­press­ing place to be. “The whole staff felt that, but Kevin’s turned the per­for­mances around and got the best out of us. We know what’s ex­pected of us and the club is run­ning smoothly. “The big thing was stay­ing up. Now he can build go­ing for­ward. He is just so pro­fes­sional. He has played at the top level all his ca­reer and knows what it takes prepa­ra­tionwise. “There is a re­ally good re­la­tion­ship be­tween me and him. We speak reg­u­larly and I feel I can go to him with any­thing. He is like a mate as well as a man­ager.”

PIC­TURE: ProS­ports

EV­ER­GREEN: Jon Stead cel­e­brates an­other goal for Notts. Insets: Shola Ameobi and boss Kevin Nolan

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