Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has revealed Senegal duo Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba will not return in time to meet Blackburn on Wednesday.
Despite Senegal’s early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, Pardew said the pair will not be a part of his squad for the match at Ewood Park, although he expects they will be ready for the home clash with Aston Villa on Sunday.
“They have got a very difficult journey in front of them with the time difference and everything else, so we don’t think they are going to make the game,” Pardew said.
“I have accepted that they won’t make the game. We tried everything to get them here, but they have got commitments to their federation. But we are in good heart that they will be involved on Sunday.”
Newcastle are in sixth place in the English Premier League, but Pardew is expecting a stern test of his side when they journey to Blackburn, who are third from the bottom.
“I think Steve Kean has done a terrific job just lately with that team, I think they are a lot stronger and better than they were when we have played them before,” he said.
“You have to admire him (Kean), to come through what was the eye of the storm really.”
“And now it will be the second half of the season, trying to keep the team in the division and I hope he does.”
“It is going to be a tough game.”
Pardew said he was a lot more relaxed this January transfer window than he had been last year, when a deadline-day swoop from Liverpool saw Andy Carroll leave Tyneside.
“Well I’m smiling and that’s a good sign, because I wasn’t last year,” Pardew said.
“I think in terms of our players going out, I think all of our big players are going to stay, which I think is important – bearing in mind the position we are in in the league.”