DEMBA Ba has been backed to end his scoring drought – by scoring the biggest goal of Newcastle United’s season.
Newcastle take on Everton on Sunday in the final game of the season with a place in the Champions League at stake.
If Alan Pardew’s side win at Goodison Park and other results go their way they could finish as high as third in the Premier League and go straight into the competition’s group stage.
That would be worth tens of millions of pounds to the club, which has already secured a place in the less lucrative Europa League.
Ba has not scored since Papiss Demba Cisse’s debut against Aston Villa on February 5, a run of 13 games.
However, the 26-year-old – who was unstoppable earlier in the season – has still been getting chances and the Senegal international came close to ending his drought in last week’s win over Chelsea.
Ba, right, was denied by the woodwork and Petr Cech in Stamford Bridge and Pardew is hopeful he has a goal in him at Goodison Park.
“As I’ve said all along, I still fancy he’ll score before the end of the season,” Pardew said.
“And who knows? He might get the most important goal of the season.”
Ba’s goal tally for the season stands at 16, but Cisse’s arrival has seen his role change, with the former West Ham United player, signed on a free transfer last summer, used on the left side of a three-man attack.
Meanwhile, United forward Hatem Ben Arfa will discover whether he has been included in the first of France coach Laurent Blanc’s two preliminary Euro 2012 squads.
Blanc will name another squad made up of France-based players next week before deciding on his final 23-man party for the European Championship.
Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye, an influential figure under Blanc, is certain to make the final cut, but Ben Arfa’s participation is less certain.
However, Ben Arfa – who was not involved in this season’s qualifiers and friendlies – could be given a chance to impress at a training camp ahead of the tournament, where France will face England in a group game.