Cisse off the mark - and fully focused on Newcastle

Newcastle debutant Georginio Wijnaldum battles Southampton's Victor Wanyama in yesterday's 2-2 draw
Newcastle debutant Georginio Wijnaldum battles Southampton's Victor Wanyama in yesterday's 2-2 draw
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Papiss Cisse has shrugged off speculation about his future – and insisted he’s fully focused on success with Newcastle United.

The striker scored in yesterday’s season-opening 2-2 Premier League draw against Southampton at St James’s Park.

Cisse cancelled out Graziano Pelle’s first-half opener before the break with the 35th Premier League goal of his Magpies career.

The 30-year-old chested in a deflected cross from Massadio Haidara which was missed by goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

Cisse said: “People say it’s easy, but I always say ‘I need to be in there’.

“It’s easy, but it’s a goal. I’m a striker. I need to be in the right place every time. This time I had a chance to be in te right place. I’m happy.”

Georginio Wijnaldum put Steve McClaren’s side into the lead in the 48th minute, but visiting substitute Shane Long claimed a point with a headed equaliser 11 minutes from time.

There is a question mark over the future of Cisse, with the Tynesiders, who signed Aleksandar Mitrovic last month, still looking to bring in another striker before the transfer window closes on September 1.

However, Cisse – who has two years left on his contract – says his only focus is scoring more goals for Newcastle.

Asked about speculation about his future, Cisse said: “I have a contract at Newcastle United. I need to be professional every time (I play).

“I’m a Newcastle player and I try to work hard every game and every chance I get. I’m here. I enjoy this moment. The gaffer speaks to me and they are teaching me things. I’m happy to work here.”

d new striker Mitrovic was lucky not to get sent off seconds into his Newcastle debut.

The Serbian made an instant impression upon replacing Papiss Cisse in the 75th minute, launching a scything challenge on Matt Targett which earned him a yellow card from ref Craig Pawson.

Mitrovic’s actions drew criticism from Saints assistant Erwin Koeman – standing in for injured brother Ronald – who insisted: “I don’t think he (Mitrovic) touched him, but if he did then Matthew was in hospital, I think.”

And amid suggestions of a later elbow by Mitrovic on Maya Yoshida which went apparently unnoticed by Pawson, McClaren will be well aware of his need to curb his new striker’s enthusiasm if he is to get the best from him.

McClaren, who claimed no knowledge of the second alleged incident, said of the first: “We were quite fortunate he did not get a red there and there would have been no complaints if he did.

“I don’t know if he got that much contact but I’m just saying with the present rules of the game... I think in the olden days those kinds of challenges were 10-a-penny.

“That’s what he (Mitrovic) is. He certainly doesn’t hold back.

“He wanted to come on and impress. He’s only a young lad and you can see how strong and direct he is. He is going to be a player.”

Another new signing, Wijnaldum who was the pick of the home performers, capping his display by finishing off a fine cross from Gabriel Obertan just seconds after Yoshida had been denied a second for Southampton at the other end when his close-range strike was beaten out by Tim Krul.

McClaren added: “I didn’t quite know what to expect and I was absolutely delighted with what I saw – I thought for 75 minutes the team were excellent.

“We have learned so much and can we get better? Most definitely.”

Erwin Koeman admitted his own satisfaction with a point after Thursday night’s Europa League exertions were tempered by two golden opportunities spurned by striker Sadio Mane in injury time.

The acting boss said: “We had some big chances in the last 10 minutes but you have to score to win games so it is mixed feelings that we have.

“It is not a bad start but if you are professional and you get the chance to win you have to win. Ten minutes before the end I thought okay, we are happy with a point, but if you see the last 10 minutes then we have to be disappointed.”