NEWCASTLE United can finally feel the “force” of Gabriel Obertan – three years into the winger’s St James’s Park career.
Obertan’s future looked to lie away from Tyneside in the summer.
The 25-year-old, in his fourth season at Newcastle, only made five substitute appearances last season, but Obertan is back in the starting XI.
And manager Alan Pardew says Obertan – who set up the first of Papiss Cisse’s two goals against Swansea a fortnight ago – is finally translating his training ground form on to the pitch in a make-or-break campaign for him.
“Gabby’s a player that on the training ground you would pick every day,” said Pardew.
“It’s about transferring that to a matchday, and when he does – like he has done recently – then he is a real force.
“We need to keep that self-belief in him.
“He’s getting older now – he is getting to that point where he has to deliver week in, week out.
“So, for Gabby, it is a big period for him.”
Obertan’s biggest asset is his pace, and Pardew has labelled him as “breathtaking” on the occasions he harnesses this in the opposition’s half.
“Obertan has had some games, at home in particular, where it’s not gone well for him,” said Pardew.
“But when it does go well for him, he can make us look a different side. We’re hoping he’s reached an age when he can deliver.
“I don’t think anyone would question his ability – sometimes he can be absolutely breathtaking – but he needs to reproduce it on matchdays.”
Sammy Ameobi came off the bench at the Liberty Stadium to set up Cisse’s second goal in the Magpies’ 2-2 draw.
The 22-year-old, out of contract next summer, is playing for his future at St James’s Park.
“Some players come later than others,” said Pardew.
“We have still got our fingers crossed for Sammy. He hasn’t really delivered for us, but he’s had moments.
“In training and in games recently, we’ve seen more moments, and that’s encouraging.”