- Premier League
Pardew fears Ba exit as Arsenal eye striker
Alan Pardew admits he is concerned by the release clause in Demba Ba's contract as the striker's future at St James' Park remains in limbo.
Ba, 27, took his season tally in the Premier League to 10 goals after a brace in Newcastle's 3-0 win over Wigan on Monday, shortly after reports that negotiations with the club had stalled.
Newcastle face an anxious wait over whether a rival Premier League club will activate the £7.5 million release clause for Ba in January, but Pardew believes the Senegal international is eager to remain with the Magpies.
"The truth of it is that Demba has got a clause in his contract and it is still hanging over us," Pardew said. "We have tried to negotiate a way and we have not managed to do that as yet.
"But the one thing I will say on a positive note is that he has never, if I am honest, looked me in the eye and looked like he wanted to do anything else but stay here, and I hope he does."
Newcastle finished the game with ten men after Ba hobbled off, but Pardew says it was merely precautionary. "I don't think he was too bad at the end, he said he felt a bit of soreness and we had to take him off," he added.
The win was Newcastle's first since their defeat of West Brom in October and Pardew believes it was critical for confidence on Tyneside.
"It's a big lift for our fans, my staff and my players," he told Newcastle's official website. "The pressure was building, we had a lot of criticism which I thought was unfair and we've had to accept that, and yet our fans were with us tonight from the off. We gave them something to shout about.
"We were all over Wigan, we wouldn't let them settle and we deserved to take the lead. Fortunately for us we got a break in that he [Figueroa] got sent off as well, and from that point thought there was only one winner."
An injury to Cheik Tiote paved the way for 18-year-old Gael Bigirimana to make an impression in the first team and he made the most of the opportunity with a stunning strike to seal the victory for Newcastle.
However, Pardew was reluctant to heap too much praise on the youngster.
"Bigi is 18 and has got a big future ahead of him," he said. "I don't think he's ready though and he shouldn't be playing in this team if I'm honest.
"He should be playing in our Under 21 team, but we are in such a place that he gets an opportunity and you would like to think that he will take that. He did more than that - it was a fantastic goal and something he will treasure for the rest of his life."