NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE ENGLAND - JANUARY 22: Steven Pienaar of Spurs in action with Shola Ameobi of Newcastle during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park on January 22 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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Newcastle United face a striker crisis after losing Shola Ameobi for several weeks following an aerial clash with Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell. With the injured Andy Carroll sold to Liverpool, the Magpies are remarkably thin on depth at forward, and Ameobi's fractured cheekbone will do them no favours at all, as the 29 year-old now faces at least a month out. Being hit in the head is a known risk of playing against Fulham, but in newly acquired Steve Sidwell they now have an even more focused bruiser than forward Clint Dempsey, whose frequent elbows to Premier League faces have always seemed more accidental than malevolent. Not so with the combative Sidwell, whose intensity occasionally appears to drift towards pure brutality.
Ameobi had hardly played more than ten minutes before being forced off by the collision, leaving Nile Ranger and Leon Best, with 43 years between them, to lead the Newcastle front line at Craven Cottage. Unsurprisingly, the visitors lacked any sort of cutting edge up front, and were ultimately sunk by a Damien Duff goal in the second half.
Worse than dropping points against Fulham, though, is the long-term loss of Ameobi. Fans blaming the situation on the sale of Andy Carroll would probably do well to remember that Carroll too will be absent for Liverpool's immediate future, but the fact remains that although £35M is a wonderful sum of money to have off the field it does the club no good at all on it without reinvesting it into the squad, something that Newcastle will be unable to do until the summer transfer window.
The next few months will be a trying time for Newcastle United and their fans. To follow their plight further, visit Coming Home Newcastle.