Cisse back in Magpies fold
Published 29/07/2013 | 13:16
Papiss Cisse will return to action at St Mirren on Tuesday night after ending his exile from the Newcastle squad.
The 28-year-old Muslim has not been involved in the club's pre-season fixtures to date as a result of his refusal to wear the club's new Wonga-sponsored shirt because of his religious beliefs.
However, the two parties managed to find a solution, with the help of the Professional Footballers' Association, last week, and the striker is now back in the Magpies fold.
He was not involved in yesterday's 1-0 victory at Blackpool, but manager Alan Pardew has confirmed he will play some part at St Mirren Park.
Pardew told the Chronicle: "Hatem [Ben Arfa], Colo [Fabricio Coloccini], Papiss, Cheick [Tiote] and a few others stayed behind. They will all play at St Mirren, for sure.
"We should have a good side out there for our fans if they want to travel up.
"Papiss has looked really good. We have only had one training day with him as a group, and he's looked really well.
"I'm pleased with that. It's been a difficult time for him, and now we rally round him and support him."
Cisse's return could hardly come at a better time for Pardew with the club's search for striking reinforcements showing few signs of ending successfully any time soon.
Press Association Sport understands the Magpies have withdrawn from negotiation with Lyon for Bafetimbi Gomis, having had an improved offer amounting to almost £7million rejected.
The bid remains on the table with owner Mike Ashley, if he sticks to his tried and trusted policy of refusing to exceed his club's valuation of a player, unlikely to go any higher for a man entering the final year of his contract.
It may yet prove to be a case of who blinks first with Lyon keen to get as much as they can for their player, but aware he could leave for nothing in 12 months' time.
Newcastle are also maintaining their interest in Aston Villa's Darren Bent and have been linked with a loan move for QPR's Loic Remy, who opted for Loftus Road rather than St James' Park in January.
Pardew is desperate to bolster his attacking options, but can only wait for Ashley and new director of football Joe Kinnear to make a breakthrough.
Kinnear, whose appointment was greeted with astonishment and anger on Tyneside, is yet to land a single target despite indicating it was his intention to get the ball rolling within days of taking up the post.
Meanwhile, midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who has been repeatedly linked with a move away from the north-east this summer, has insisted he is focusing only on the club's opening fixture at Manchester City after supporters at Bloomfield Road on Sunday urged him in song to stay.
He told the Chronicle: "It's always nice to hear that, and the fans were fantastic, as they are every time. It was a great moment.
"I'm just working hard. We have to be focused and ready for the first game on August 19."
A summer of uncertainty at St James' has left many supporters in open revolt, but the club have moved to bridge the gap by reinstating their fans' forum, which last operated during the 2008/09 season.
Fifteen fans will sit alongside seven club officials and sponsors' representatives to discuss the relevant issues and attempt to come up with solutions.