ALAN Pardew last night admitted he is still trying to work out how to get the best from the Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cissé partnership.
The two Senegalese international strikers have yet to gel this season, something the Newcastle United manager admitted is a concern at a time when his team are desperate for points.
Ba at least has been in decent goalscoring form with ten to his name so far, but Cissé is struggling and has got four, with just two of them coming in the Premier League.
Pardew revealed this is a problem that is being dealt with on the training pitch in the hope that the two can click, preferably starting against Manchester City at St James’ Park tomorrow afternoon.
Pardew said: “That’s a process we’re looking at, to try and get the best out of them (Cissé and Ba). We do sometimes change within a game, like we did at Fulham, to try and do that.
“Obviously the opposition try to disrupt this. They don’t want them to play well, so we have to find a way where they contribute. I thought at Fulham they did some good things, but that’s not to say we can’t improve it.
“We’re still working to get the best out of them. We need Cissé scoring goals for this football club. We need him scoring special goals. It is a process we have done some work on.”
Pardew revealed that Hatem Ben Arfa is likely to miss tomorrow’s match with champions City because he is suffering from a hamstring injury that is puzzling Newcastle’s medical staff. He said: “Hatem is a concern. He had a hamstring injury before the Fulham game. He trained, we scanned him, and he was good. He played well in the game.
“The doctor said to me before the start to be careful with him in terms of how long he plays, which is why we took him off. I thought he was playing well.
“Since then, although he has no symptoms, the scan doesn’t show that his hamstring is very well.
“It’s a tricky one for Hatem, the doctor and particularly for myself. It’s hard to know exactly where he is. We think he’s got a problem.
“But it’s not reflected in him at the minute.
“It’s an unusual situation but we’ve had a lot of unusual situations this year. My gut feeling is that he won’t be fit for Saturday.”
Newcastle desperately need Ben Arfa on the pitch, but the worry for Pardew is that he runs the risk of his most creative player breaking down and then losing him for a period of time. The manager said: “It is a tough call. But I have to look at the bigger picture, as well as the immediate problem of trying to get a win, which would relieve a lot of pressure on the team.
“It’s a psychological blow if Hatem is out. It’s been a psychological blow to keep losing our top players.
“We have to keep overcoming them.
“But the performance we put in before Hatem came back against Stoke was good and we have to lean on that.”