DEMBA Ba has been backed to pick up where he left off at Newcastle United when he returns against Aston Villa tomorrow.
The striker returned to training yesterday after flying back from the African Cup of Nations, along with Senegal team-mate Papiss Demba Cissé.
Cissé, signed from Freiburg last month, is set to make his Newcastle debut in the televised fixture at the Sports Direct Arena.
A victory would see Newcastle go joint-fourth in the Premier League ahead of Chelsea’s home game against Manchester United later in the afternoon.
Ba’s return is signifcant for Pardew, whose side went fifth in the Premier League after their midweek win against Blackburn at Ewood Park.
Ba took his goal tally for the season to 15 with a strike on his last appearance against Manchester United last month and Pardew is relishing having the 26-year-old back in his side.
“Demba coming back, for his character and the quality he brings, is a massive thing,” Pardew said.
“He’s already lifted the place. Whether we start with Demba and Cissé, or one of them, they’re going to have an impact in this game. I’m looking forward to it.”
Pardew admits to being slightly concerned at Cissé and Ba’s fatigue after a tortuous journey back from the African Cup of Nations, where their Senegal team was knocked out at the group stage.
And some of his other players are feeling the affects of Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers.
“They’re both slightly tired because they had a long trip, but they trained well,” said Pardew. “Some of our players are tired. That was a tough game.
“I need to really look at training to see who I’m going to play. I need a gameplan to win this game.
“Our 2-0 win away from home in midweek was absolute gold dust – it sets up our home game. Now we’ve got an opportunity, and we’ll try and take it.”
Pardew will also have to do without influential French midfielder Yohan Cabaye through suspension.
The big disappointment at the football club was losing Yohan,” said Ryan Taylor, whose deflected shot put Newcastle ahead at Blackburn.
“But we’ve got the two strikers to come back and they’ll be hungry to start playing together.”