DEMBA Ba’s battling to be fit to face Liverpool at Anfield.
The Newcastle United striker suffered a shin injury in Sunday’s 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
Manager Alan Pardew rates Ba as “50-50”, at best, for Sunday’s game on Merseyside.
Ba, a January target for Liverpool, took his goal tally for the season to seven with his strike against West Brom, and Pardew’s desperate for him to prove his fitness in time to face Brendan Rodgers’s side at Anfield.
However, Ba – who has a problem with a nerve on his shin – won’t be risked if he’s not fit, and Papiss Demba Cisse has been put on standby to start.
“I think he’s 50-50, at best,” said Pardew, who also has Shola and Sammy Ameobi available.
”We’ve got Papiss back on the goal trail, and Shola and Sammy, so we’re happy with that. It’s very important to have that.”
Cisse deflected a Sammy Ameobi shot past Ben Foster deep in injury time to given Newcastle a win over West Brom.
And Pardew believes Cisse’s first Premier League strike of the season, however inadvertent, will have given him a welcome lift after a difficult few months in front of goal.
“Papiss is fit and well, and we’re looking forward to seeing him this weekend,” said Pardew.
Ba has been watched this season by Liverpool, with Rodgers looking to strengthen his attacking options in the New Year.
The 27-year-old will again be available for £7m because of a releause clause in his contract, which was revealed by Pardew.
“There’s a clause in there that might make us vulnerable,” admitted Pardew ahead of the club’s Europa League game at Maritimo last month.
There have been discussions about a new United contract for Ba.
Those talks remain ongoing, though, up to now, the two parties have been some way apart.
Newcastle signed Ba last year from West Ham United on a free transfer.
And the Senegal international ended his first season at St James’s Park as top scorer with 16 Premier League goals.
Cisse netted 13 after joining from Freiburg in January, and his goal tally for the season so far stands at three after his West Brom strike.