Goal-den Ba feeling nine and dandy!
DEMBA BA has played his way into Newcastle’s iconic No.9 shirt – even if he doesn’t want to wear it.
The in-form Senegal international has been one of the Premier League buys of the season.
His 11 goals so far have fired the Geordies’ unexpected top-six bid.
Ba took the No.19 jersey on his summer arrival from West Ham, with manager Alan Pardew keen not to pile the pressure on the high-profile arrival by inviting him to follow a stellar list of Geordie legends to have worn the famous shirt.
Pardew feared that following in the footsteps of Alan Shearer, Malcolm Macdonald and Jackie Milburn was a potential albatross the 26-year-old could do without in his first first season on Tyneside.
But, after seeing the way Ba has hit the ground running in the first half of the season, Pardew now admits to second thoughts at not backing the prolific striker, who will be a big miss next month while away on African Nations Cup duty.
After a slow start at St James’ Park – caused in part by the draining effects of the devout Muslim fasting during the month of Ramadan – Ba has scored 11 goals in 12 games, including two hat-tricks.
That has given Newcastle an outside chance of going into Christmas in the top six if they beat Roy Hodgson’s side and Liverpool slip up at Wigan tonight.
Pardew said: “Demba’s all-round ability in terms of the goals and everything he’s given us has been a real bonus this year.
“In fact, if I knew he’d perform to that level he would have got the No.9 shirt. Some of the things he has produced so far have been exceptional.
“We have a real talent there and we’ll miss him for the African Nations Cup, that’s for sure.”
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TOONED IN: Demba Ba has already hit 11 goals for Newcastle