DEMBA Ba’s been backed to once again show Stoke City what they’re missing – and fire Newcastle United out of the club’s worrying slump.
Ba scored a hat-trick in last season’s 3-1 win at the Britannia Stadium.
And the feat was especially sweet for the striker, who was taunted by home fans that night.
Stoke pulled out of a deal for the Senegal international, then a Hoffenheim player, in January 2011 after he failed a medical at the Britannia Stadium.
Instead, Ba went on to sign for West Ham United.
And the goals have flowed for the 27-year-old – who joined Newcastle last year – ever since in the Premier League.
This season Ba has again been a regular on the scoresheet.
But goals are proving harder to come by elsewhere in Pardew’s team, which was beaten 2-0 at Southampton on Sunday.
United manager Alan Pardew admits Ba – and his misfiring strike partner Papiss Demba Cisse – must somehow find a way to score, whatever the service they get from Newcastle’s injury-hit midfield.
And he’s hoping Ba can add to his eight goals at the Britannia Stadium.
“I think Demba’s a big character in the team,” Pardew told the Gazette. “He probably didn’t have his best game on Sunday.
“I think he’s determined to put in a good performance. A lot rides on him and Papiss producing the goods for us.
“Regardless of the service, they need to find a way to score goals. We need to help them, and they need to help us.”
Cisse isn’t the only player to have found the going tough this season.
And Pardew admits the “egos” in the dressing room have been bruised by the criticism which has come his players’ way after three successive Premier League defeats.
“We need our big players to come forward,” he added.
“Their ego has been bashed a bit in the press and in the media. The best players respond to it.
“Some of our top players need a performance. We can’t use our younger players, and expect them to do it every time.
“We are expecting a bit much from (Shane) Ferguson and Sammy (Ameobi).
“I’m probably asking too much from them to come in and play big roles for us.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle United were knocked out of the FA Youth Cup by Arsenal last night.
The Gunners booked their place in the competition’s fourth round with a 3-0 win at Barnet’s Underhill Stadium home.
Anthony Jeffrey, Hector Bellerin and Chuba Akpom were on target for Arsenal.