Belfast Telegraph

Senegal slump is good news for Toon

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew was preparing for an unexpected bonus with strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Demba Cisse due to return weeks ahead of schedule.

Pardew sent the pair off on African Nations Cup duty earlier this month knowing they could be away until the middle of next month if Senegal went all the way in the competition.

However, defeats by Zambia and co-hosts Equatorial Guinea in their opening Group A games mean they cannot now qualify for the knockout stages of the competition, and Sunday's clash with Libya will end their involvement.

Pardew is yet to speak to 15-goal leading scorer Ba and Cisse, the man he signed from Freiburg before the tournament got under way, but has not given up hope of having them both available for Wednesday's Barclays Premier League clash with Blackburn.

He said: "We have to understand the federation of Senegal's wishes, and also our own.

"Lee Charnley, our secretary here, will call them and have a conversation as to when and where we can get them back.

"Blackburn on Wednesday? That's probably tight, but we might try to get them back for that.

"I am guessing they are not too pleased about how it's gone, so that's something we will have to focus on when they return.

"On the other hand, obviously they are coming back early, so that part of it, I am pleased about.

"They are two great players and you want your best players in and around your team."

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