DEMBA Ba might not even make the visiting bench at St James’s Park tomorrow.
And the former striker’s predicament at Chelsea underlines the strength in depth the club’s manager, Jose Mourinho, has at his disposal.
Pardew has quality in his squad, no question.
But he is without key players for the Chelsea game, and there are tired legs in the squad after Wednesday night’s extra-time defeat to Manchester City.
The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.
Newcastle need a result. Pardew needs a result.
And United’s manager has drawn strength from last season’s meeting between the two sides on Tyneside, which Newcastle won 3-2 thanks to two goals from Moussa Sissoko and another from Jonas Gutierrez.
“It was probably our best display against one of the top teams this year,” Pardew saide.
“We’ve performed well against Chelsea.
“In the last six games it’s been two wins, two defeats and two draws. We’re competitive, if nothing else.
“I think this will be a tight game.
“Jose’s brought a bit more quality to the group – they’ve spent well this summer – and I think one part of his management which gets overlooked is that defensive side, which they’re stronger at when he’s there.
“So it’s going to be a difficult game, but we’re in good heart after Man City, when we put in a committed and spirited display against another top team.”
Chelsea, second in the Premier League, are well placed under Mourinho, who returned to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Mourinho’s side are 8/13 odds-on favourites to win at St James’s Park. Somehow United must upset those odds.
Mourinho, one of football’s great tacticians, has earned the right to have players of the calibre of Ba – who left Newcastle last January – on the fringes of his squad.
“These guys have great resources, but you have to earn those resources by getting success,” said Pardew.
“They’ve had success at other levels. Therefore that’s what puts them in the position they’re in.
“A top coach with top players makes it very difficult. It’s up to us to try to undo them, and that’s what we’ll try to do on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, reports that Pardew is “interested” in the vacant manager’s at Crystal Palace have been dismissed as “nonsense”.