PAPISS Demba Cisse has been backed to be a derby hero for Newcastle United.
The striker took his tally for the club to two goals with his strike in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Wolves.
Cisse was yesterday withdrawn from the Senegal squad for Wednesday night’s friendly against South Africa as a precaution after suffering a knock in the game.
While the injury is a concern, the fact that Cisse has been spared a 12,000-mile round trip to Durban will come as a relief to manager Alan Pardew, who was wary of the toll that the gruelling trip would take on his player.
In any case, Pardew is confident the in-form striker will be fit to face Sunderland in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby at St James’s Park after a full week of treatment.
Cisse, so far, has a 100 per cent scoring record at the stadium, having also netted on his home debut against Aston Villa.
And the 26-year-old, signed from German club Freiburg for £9m last month, has also made an impression on the training pitch in his short time at United.
Cisse’s touch, awareness and, above all, striker’s instinct has heartened Pardew – and his team-mates.
“Papiss has been showing in training all week that he’s going to score goals,” Pardew told the Gazette.
“I think he got six in one small-sided game this week. I’ve not seen many strikers do that since I’ve been here.”
Pardew also took the performance of captain Fabricio Coloccini to be a positive from the Wolves game.
While the result, and performance, was disappointing – Newcastle lost a two-goal lead – Pardew felt Cisse and Coloccini’s displays boded well for the coming weeks.
“There were a lot of positives,” added Pardew. “I thought Colo looked back to his best a little bit.
“Colo wasn’t at his best at Tottenham, either. We’ve had a few positives, and we’ll take that into Sunderland.”