DEMBA Ba is finally back on the goals trail for Newcastle United – and Alan Pardew is expecting many more to come from the striker.
Ba was left out of the club’s squad for Thursday night’s Europa League qualifier against Atromitos with a minor injury.
But manager Pardew’s confident the striker will be fit to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League this evening (5.30pm kick-off).
Ba netted his first strike since February in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Tottenham HotspurThe 27-year-old brought a deep cross down and struck the ball superbly beyond Brad Friedel and into the far corner of the net.
Ba was a revelation for Newcastle in the first half of last season.
However, the Senegal international’s goals dried up after the arrival of countryman Papiss Demba Cisse.
Ba was shifted to the left of a three-man attack, but Pardew sees him playing a more central role this term, though a tactical change at the break saw him again the left against Spurs.
“(Strikers) love to score goals,” Pardew said.
“We asked him to do a job on the left-hand side in the second half. We changed our system, but we kept both strikers on.
“He had to look after (Kyle) Walker, and sometimes when you keep your strikers on, they come up with a bit of magic. It was a great goal.”
While Ba didn’t find the net in the latter months of last season, Pardew was happy with his overall contribution.
Pardew added: “I’m not going to disguise the fact that while he was brilliant in the second half of last season, he didn’t contribute with the goals that he would’ve liked.
“He couldn’t have worked any harder, but sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”
Ba’s goal early in the second half was cancelled out by a strike from Jermain Defoe.
However, Newcastle – who had been on the back foot before the break – went for the win, and were rewarded when Hatem Ben Arfa won and converted a penalty.
With Pardew sent to the stands for an incident involving the linesman, his assistant, John Carver, appeared to signal from the bench that Ba was the preferred penalty taker.
“I was very surprised, actually, that he didn’t take the penalty,” said Pardew.
“Hatem must have a little stepover on him as well.