By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Manager Alan Pardew is backing striker Demba Ba to score "a very significant goal" in Newcastle United's final two games of the season.
Ba currently tops the Magpies' goalscoring charts with 16 strikes, but has gone 12 games without finding the back of the net - his last goal coming at the start of February against Aston Villa.
On Sunday, United play their penultimate fixture of the campaign as they entertain Premier League leaders Manchester City, and Pardew praised Ba for this selfless attitude in not only adapting to a new role for the good of the team, but also helping countryman Papiss Cisse settle on Tyneside.
"Demba has had to suffer for Papiss' arrival, in terms of working for the team, but he's helped him settle in and made it a lot easier for Papiss," said Pardew.
"He has had a couple of moments during this run where he has been a little bit disgruntled, but he's a striker and he wants to score goals.
"The realisation is that the team have been absolutely brilliant. In the role that he plays he doesn't get as many chances as Papiss, but he still hit the bar the other night and forced a fantastic save out of (Chelsea goalkeeper) Petr Cech.
"I've said this all along - I still think he might get a very significant goal."
Pardew revealed that full-back Danny Simpson could once again miss out on Sunday as City arrive in the North-East. The ex-Manchester United man is still struggling to recover from an ankle injury which halted his ever-present top flight record on Wednesday night.
However, there is good news for Magpies fans in the midfield department. Despite suffering a nasty head wound which saw him stretchered off and receive seven stiches, Ivorian enforcer Cheick Tiote will be fit to face the Blues.
"Danny Simpson is doubtful for the game," said Pardew.
"Cheick Tiote is not doubtful, at all."