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Pardew confident Cisse will hit goal trail
ALAN Pardew is unconcerned about Papiss Cisse's lack of goals this season and insists the Newcastle striker is set to embark on a scoring spree.
Cisse has scored twice this term, against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup and Bordeaux in the Europa League, but Thursday's goalless display against Club Brugge means he has now failed to find the back of the net on nine occasions.
His record is a marked contrast to last season, when he claimed 13 goals in 13 starts, and led to the Senegal international being dropped for last weekend's 1-1 draw with Sunderland.
He is expected to get the nod ahead of Shola Ameobi to partner Demba Ba in tomorrow's Premier League game with West Brom, and Pardew saw enough on Thursday to convince him that his most expensive striker is close to regaining top form.
Cisse went close with two first-half efforts, and while Club Brugge goalkeeper Bojan Jorgacevic thwarted him on each occasion, the striker's attacking instincts took him in the ideal position to threaten the target.
"I think like all strikers you just want him to be getting chances and he is still getting them," said Pardew, ahead of the visit of the Baggies.
"It's when they don't start threatening the goal that you worry, but I do not really sense that with Papiss."
Pardew has effectively been selecting two different sides in the first half of the season, with one line-up tackling the league games and a different group of players competing in Europe.
The trend continued this week as the Magpies boss made nine changes for the 1-0 win over Club Brugge.
The likes of Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba are all expected to return to the starting line-up tomorrow, but the strength of Newcastle's European performances is blurring the distinction between the 'A' team and the players on the fringe of the squad.
Shane Ferguson is pushing Davide Santon for a place at left-back, Gabriel Obertan could hardly have done more to press his claims on the right-hand side and Sammy Ameobi caught the eye with an impressive attacking display on Thursday evening.
There will have to be at least one alteration tomorrow - James Perch is expected to get the nod ahead of Vurnon Anita and Gael Bigirimana to replace the suspended Cheik Tiote - and Pardew admits it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine the pecking order within his squad.
"I have been picking sides which I think suit the game, but it is getting harder," he said. "Even the bench is really competitive because the subs who have been coming off the bench are in good form. Nights like Thursday give me a touch choice for the bench this weekend, let alone the team.
"It is a pleasing situation for the club to be in. We keep saying we have some good young players, but they have to deliver. It is no good just doing it in training.
"Fergie (Ferguson) and Sammy are brilliant in training and they produced it in the game (against Brugge). Young Adam (Campbell) is knocking on the door as well and has been as good as anyone on the training field."
The Premier League season is still at a formative stage, but there have already been predictions that West Brom will be 'this season's Newcastle'.
Steve Clarke's side have started impressively, losing just two of their opening eight games as they have climbed to sixth in the table.
They pushed Manchester City close last weekend and Pardew only has to look back at their visit to Tyneside last December to appreciate how much of a threat they will pose tomorrow afternoon.
Ten months ago, West Brom caused Newcastle a succession of problems on the counter-attack as they won 3-2 at St James', and with the likes of James Morrison, Graham Dorrans and Shane Long currently performing at the top of their form, the Magpies cannot afford to take their opponents for granted.
"That was one of my most disappointing games here last year," admitted Pardew. "I thought we were too open and they hurt us on the break a few times. They've got real pace in their team and so you have to be careful when you attack West Brom.
"We are in the position we are in because we have drawn a number of games. Some of those draws were not games we deserved to win, but with everyone fit, I'd like to think we can start getting three points. Draws do not really take you anywhere in this league."