NEWCASTLE United were last night anxiously awaiting reports on the fitness of their in-form striker Demba Ba.
With a second round of matches due to be played tonight, it has not been a great international break for the Magpies.
Despite being noticeably under-represented for one of only two unbeaten sides in England this season, they already have injury concerns over two players ahead of Sunday’s televised visit of Tottenham Hotspur.
France are downplaying the extent of Yohan Cabaye’s injury, picked up in Friday’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Albania. But Newcastle will soon discover for themselves the extent of Ba’s latest knee problem.
The Senegal striker joined this summer with a chequered injury history.
A prospective January move to Stoke City fell through when the Potters’ examined the results of his medical. Unwilling to gamble on Ba’s left knee, he was allowed to join West Ham United instead, moving on again when the Upton Park club were relegated at the end of the season.
Like the player himself, Newcastle have been at great pains to stress what good condition the 26-year-old’s joints are in, but any mention of knee trouble is bound to cause concern on Tyneside, not least because of Ba’s recent form.
It had not been possible to ascertain last night whether his latest problem is to the same knee, but with no game for the Lions of Teranga tonight Newcastle’s medical team will assess the problem themselves tomorrow.
Newcastle have fielded an unchanged starting line-up for their last three matches, Ba scoring four times in the last two games. They were his first goals for the club, having looked a little off the pace initially, making his debut during Ramadam when, as a Muslim, he was on a month-long fast during daylight hours.
Senegal qualified for next year’s African Cup of Nations before the weekend’s final qualifier over pointless Mauritius, but called Ba up anyway. He played no part in training on Friday or Saturday, with the Senegal Football Association citing a knee problem as the reason. Unsurprisingly, he did not feature in the 2-0 victory. Further detail, however, has been scant.