By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Magpies legend Les Ferdinand has given his seal of approval to Newcastle's current number nine Papiss Cisse - and insists the Senegalese striker is "worthy" of the famous shirt.
Nicknamed 'Sir Les' after his own exploits on Tyneside between 1995 and 1997, Ferdinand has watched with interest as former Freiburg frontman Cisse has hit 13 goals in his first 14 starts for United.
Ferdinand scored 16 goals in his first 14 appearances to win instant adulation from the Toon Army following his arrival from Queens Park Rangers 17 years ago, and he has been hugely impressed by Cisse's similarly sensational start in black and white.
"He couldn't have done much better," said the man who scored 41 times in 68 Premier League games during his two years at Gallowgate. "He started so well, like Demba Ba did last season.
"Papiss came here and they gave him the number nine shirt, and he's worthy of it so far. He has had a great first season, and he now needs to take that into this season.
"If he can improve on that then he's got a hell of year coming up."
Ferdinand played alongside Peter Beardsley in his first season and then formed a devastating pairing with Alan Shearer in his second campaign, and the 45-year-old believes United's current front two of Ba and Cisse has the potential to be talked about in the same breath.
"It's a great partnership and once it gets going I'm sure the goals will flow," he said.
"They certainly get the fans excited and that's a good thing."
Ferdinand was back on Tyneside on Saturday in his role as a coach for Tottenham's Under-21 side and was on the sidelines as Spurs' second-string were beaten 6-4 by a Newcastle side led by Willie Donachie and his old mate Beardsley.
Teenage forward Adam Campbell scored a first-half hat-trick in that game and Ferdinand admitted that he liked what he saw from the youngster - who, ironically, was wearing number nine.
"I spoke to Peter about him at the end and we talked about what a prospect he is," he said.
"We talked about what a good attitude he had. If he continues the way he is going he will only get better.
"He was very sharp and showed he had great pace. Maybe he'll grow a bit more, but he's an exciting player."