Pardew looks forward to Europa campaign

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew wants to concentrate on Thursday's Europa League meeting with Maritimo and played down talk of a rift between himself and striker Demba Ba.

Football News: Demba Ba, Newcastle vs Everton

The Senegal international admitted his displeasure at only being named among the substitutes for Monday night's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Everton having responded in fine style by coming off the bench to score both his side's goals.

His agent Alex Gontran caused consternation on Tyneside when he suggested the following day that Ba might have to consider his options if he found himself sitting on the bench too often in the future.

Pardew's response in Madeira was more diplomatic than it might have been, with the initial response behind the scenes one of acute displeasure.

He said: "That's just people needing to say things they shouldn't say, really, but it doesn't really affect me and Demba. We have got a good relationship."

Maritimo warmed up for Thursday's game with a creditable 1-1 home draw with Sporting Lisbon.

Asked how he had viewed the Magpies' slow start, boss Pedro Martins said: "It's normal. They beat Tottenham, which was a good result, and then they lost at Chelsea, which is normal because Chelsea are a very strong team.

"They played on Monday night and had a good second half, they were very, very strong.

"They play in a very British way and it will be a very, very difficult game."

Maritimo earned their place in the group stage of the competition by defeating Asteras on away goals after drawing 1-1 in Greece, and then Georgians Dila, winning 1-0 at home and 2-0 away.

That unbeaten start to their campaign has given them confidence that they can extend it by making life intensely difficult for Newcastle in the humid conditions at their stadium.

Martins said: "It's very important to win your home games. That is our short-term aim so we can be strong in the future."



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