ALAN Pardew won’t stand in the way of Papiss Demba Cisse and Demba Ba’s Olympic dream.
Pardew has admitted he’s resigned to losing the Newcastle United pair to Senegal’s Olympic football campaign.
Cisse and Ba – who have scored 27 Premier League goals between them this season – are expected to be called up for the tournament, which kicks off in late July and runs until August 11.
“If someone offered me the opportunity to win a gold medal, I think I’d try and take it,” Pardew told the Gazette. “I’ve got no problem.”
Cisse and Ba’s likely involement means Pardew could be without his two most potent strikers for the Europa League’s third qualifying round.
The president of Senegal’s football federation, Augustin Senghor, this week suggested they will be called up as the country’s two permitted over-age for the Olympics, a tournament for players aged 23 and under.
“They are patriotic guys – if the nation needs them, they will come,” said Senghor.
However, Pardew feels the club can work around their involvement, though their absence for a large part of pre-season, and from any European qualifiers, would be a blow to the club.
Asked if Olympic football was likely to give him a headache, Pardew said: “Only logistical – we might lose Cisse and Demba to the competition.
“I think they’ll be keen to have a rest, and probably deserve a rest, after the seasons they’ve had. The international call is for them and the international managers to sort out.
“We’ll work around it. We’ll just give them more rest in pre-season. There’s no big deal about that.”
Pardew doesn’t expect to lose any more players to the Olympics, though Ryan Taylor has been contacted by Stuart Pearce, boss of Team GB who are in the same group as Senegal.
England Under-21 international Sammy Ameobi and Northern Ireland’s Shane Ferguson are two other players in the frame.
However, Pardew doesn’t expect Ameobi, sidelined with a knee problem, to be fit in time.
Asked if he envisaged any other Newcastle players being involved, Pardew said: “Possibly Sammy would have got a call if he’d stayed fit, because he broke into the Under-21s, but obviously he’s injured.
“I don’t think he’ll be ready.”