Alan Pardew has given Papiss Cisse the green light to continue leading the line for Newcastle United – despite admitting to “concern” over the striker’s goal drought.
Cisse is a Premier League ever-present for Pardew and the United boss says his position is not under threat for the visit of Hull City, when improving Newcastle are gunning for a fourth straight win.
It could be argued Cisse has been a victim of circumstances so far this season, the forward getting precious little service in the first two games.
He will be part of a three-man front-line alongside impressive newcomer Loic Remy and Hatem Ben Arfa on Saturday, a combination which Pardew feels will give Newcastle much more threat.
With Yoan Gouffran netting the winner at Aston Villa there is pressure on Cisse to finally hit the goal trail.
Pardew said: “Papiss is focused but he knows with every game which t goes when a striker’s not scored, it’s difficult for them.
“Their mood changes, some games you can see they’re up and determined to get it right, other times they’re down but I just generally sense this week he’s in a good place.
“He wants a goal and he can see that we’re starting to create chances and he feels better about that. Hopefully, we’ll give him three or four opportunities to score.
“His place is not under immediate threat although I think I have to say Gouffran has really impressed and he’s not in the team at the minute, Sylvain (Marveaux) is in a good place and they are the options I want.
“As I said in the transfer window, another attacking option would have put even more pressure on and that’s what it’s about. You have to be able to deal with it at a club like Newcastle.”
Cisse’s reputation will not guarantee him starts moving forward but Pardew is prepared to allow his most prolific striker to play his way into form. There is pressure, however.
He added: “I don’t want to say that but I’m just targeting him in terms I want him to score and so does the team, it’s important he plays well and scores for us and I think a goal would help him and I’m hoping we create the chances to give him that opportunity.
“There is always pressure on players. They have to perform. His work rate is very good. His focus needs now to be to score goals for us.
“Hopefully, we can create more chances. In the last few games we’ve had more options, opportunities are starting to come his way.”
Newcastle’s reversion to a 4-3-3 formation since Remy returned to fitness apes the system Cisse prospered in at the back end of the 2011/12 campaign.
Pardew said: “That will help him and, as a Newcastle manager standing on the sidelines last year, after Demba left I never felt we carried enough offensive threat.
We’ve addressed that a little bit with Remy but also we’re had Hatem fit and healthy again and Marveaux and Gouffran have kicked on a little bit.
“We have Obertan back in the squad and suddenly there’s real competition and I think that bodes well for results when I have the options I have on the bench.”
The mood has changed at Newcastle over the last fortnight, with Pardew able to concentrate on footballing matters since the disappointing end to the transfer window.
Yohan Cabaye’s situation has been resolved and the club sought to draw a line under the saga by fining the midfielder this week.
Pardew says the France international accepted his punishment with “good grace”.
A change in system has also played its part, Pardew’s pre-season assertion a lighter fixture programme would aid his team also proving to be correct.
Pardew said: “We’re starting to look like a Newcastle team, a team which entertains and creates goals.
“Out of open play we’ve probably scored as many as anyone out of the top three or four.”