Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has claimed that striker Demba Ba could have had an even better start to the season had he avoided fasting during Ramadan.
The Senegalese forward grabbed a hat-trick in a victory over Blackburn but has been restricted to mostly substitute appearances this season because of a lack of fitness.
Speaking after the game, Pardew said: “He’s [Demba Ba] had a slow start here because of mainly Ramadan in my view. He had a couple of substitute appearances where he just started to show a little bit of sharpness but I thought he was terrific at Aston Villa and made us control the midfield without actually threatening the goal.
“He did that today and he threatened the goal and he got his three goals. The two strikers in particular were brilliant today and Leon Best had his best game for me and didn’t score.
“Strikers thrive on goals and that confidence that Demba’s going to get from those three goals here in front of the Toon army will have done him the power of good."
Pardew went on to praise his squad's efforts during their 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers, singling out Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Gutierrez for praise.
“It’s the discipline of the team, if we can keep our discipline we’re going to win more than we lose this year because we have all the quality," he continued.
“Blackburn did a job on [Yohan] Cabaye today in doing that they left other areas of the pitch we could exploit we showed we’re not just a one trick pony.
"We did things here and there I thought [Gabriel] Obertan was brilliant today and so was Jonas [Gutierrez], in the wide areas we caused a lot of trouble.”
“I think the investment we had in the team which has been significant in terms of the squad is there for all to see. We’ve still got Davide Santon to threaten this team and we’ve still got Hatem Ben Arfa who had a little cameo today. We’re a strong side.
“The two that played today played to a very high standard they are not the most glamorous of names but they did very well today.
“Some of our players are beginning to find their feet in this division and are beginning to blossom and I think there’s real competition in all areas."
The Magpies boss also dismissed controversy surrounding Demba Ba's hat-trick goal after Blackburn manager Steve Kean suggested defender Scott Dann was fouled in the build-up.
"I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it I thought Demba just got a little header on it and looped it over the goalie. I don’t think it was a game deciding goal.
"It’s very important to keep the disciplines that we’ve got because the club is in really good health at the minute throughout the club.
"The fans were brilliant today but it would be nice to have a season where there’s really good feeling about the place. We’ve only just started and hopefully we can continue the feeling we had today."