Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Cisse puts Wonga row behind him
PAPISS CISSE insists he has put the Wonga row firmly behind him and is confident his lack of pre-season action will not affect his early season form for Newcastle United.
Cisse's future on Tyneside was cast into doubt over the summer with fears he could leave the club over a row to do with the club's new shirt sponsors, payday lenders Wonga.
The Senegalese international cited religious grounds as the reasoning behind his refusal to wear the brand's logo and as a result was left at home when Alan Pardew took his squad to Portugal for pre-season.
His omission from the trip plunged his Magpies future into further doubt, but on the squad's return an agreement was reached with Cisse to wear the shirt and he was integrated back into first team training.
However, having missed two pre-season games and crucial time on the training ground with his team-mates there were fears it may take the 28-year-old longer to catch up in terms of fitness and preparaion.
Cisse insists that isn't the case, though, and despite struggling to put Manchester City's backline under any real pressure on Monday, the £9m man is confident he can open his account when West Ham visit St James' Park today.
"I don't feel like I really missed out because of what happened," Cisse said. "I needed the rest, because while others were on holiday I still had three weeks of international duty so I think the rest did me good.
"Obviously it wasn't planned that I'd miss those matches, but while the other players had up to seven weeks off, I'd only had two weeks off at that point. It was good to have an extra rest. I don't think the situation affected me.
"I'd liked to have played more pre-season matches, but I don't think it was a negative that I missed them."
Pardew is desperate to sign another strike partner to play alongside Cisse, but until now his attempts to land a number of targets have failed.
The Magpies boss had hoped to have either Bafetimbi Gomis or Darren Bent in before the season started, but the latter has now moved elsewhere and a deal for the French striker continues to drag on.
Supporters are already running out of patience with director of football Joe Kinnear, who has only managed to complete a loan deal for Loic Remy despite promising to bring in several faces.
Cisse admits he is also unsure why the club have failed to strengthen, but prefers to leave talk of transfers to the men in power.
He said: "I'm not sure why we haven't signed anyone or how the managers go about doing their business.
"All I can say is what matters to me as a player in the squad and what I can do in the team. It's up to the management and directors to do their job and I'm not going to advise them on what their job is. It's nothing to do with me."
Cisse does have a new strike partner in Remy, who could return against Fulham next weekend, and the Senegal international believes the pair could form a deadly partnership once they start playing together.
"He's (Remy) a great guy, a very nice guy as well and is a fantastic striker, a good player," Cisse said. "He plays for the French national team and is a player with a lot of talent. Personally I think we can work well together and I'm looking forward to it.
"He can bring something really positive to the team and he really adds to the squad. At the moment he's training on his own but I hope soon he'll be able to train with the rest of the first team so we can start working together."
Cisse is still waiting to bag his first goal of the season, but the striker has revealed that when he does, supporters can expect a toned down celebration.
The 28-year-old came to the Magpies' rescue on a number of occasions last season, but Pardew has asked his main man not to risk picking up yellow cards by running into the St James' Park crowd.
He revealed: "I'm not allowed to do that this season because when I did it last time I got a yellow card, so the manager has had a word with me about it!
"Obviously I'd like to jump into the fans again and say hello after I've scored again this season and thank them for their support.
"It was important for me when I did that last season, personally because the fans worked really hard for us in that match (1-0 win over Fulham last season), giving us their support for the 90 minutes, so I wanted to just go and say thanks.
"It was quite an expensive thank you to give because I got a yellow card! Fortunately I hadn't got one before that, but this time I'll have to think of something new to do because I can't leave the pitch and get booked again. I'll try to think of something different."
Newcastle will look to put Monday night's heavy defeat to Man City behind them today and Cisse insists there will be no hangover when Sam Allardyce brings his Hammers to Tyneside.
"It's a defeat we need to forget and move on from," Cisse said. "We need to turn the page and move on. We start again now, we need to go out there and catch up. We need to focus on West Ham and forget the City result.
"I feel good. When you get beaten 4-0 you don't feel that great afterwards. I was quite upset on the evening after that match but now I've got that out of my system, out of my head and physically I feel great."