Newcastle striker Leon Best confident of deputising for Demba Ba ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

Toon forward helped club overcome loss of Andy Carroll last season and he is optimistic he can do the same again when the Senegal international flies out to join his national team
Newcastle United striker Leon Best filled Andy Carroll's boots last season and he expressed confidence he can do the same as Demba Ba prepared to leave Tyneside for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Best has not scored since mid-September but he remains bullish about his prospects of making up for the loss of Senegalese international Ba, who scored his 15th goal this season in the 3-0 win over Manchester United.

“We obviously don’t want Demba to be going because he is scoring so many goals,” Best told Newcastle’s matchday programme.

“He might like to stay but it is his duty for his country and we will just have to crack on without him. It gives someone else a chance, gives other people the opportunity to form partnerships and for somebody to become the main man up there,”

“It’s a bit like when Andy Carroll left last January. It opened up the door for other people - myself included. I had a good goalscoring spell after that and that could happen again for me or someone like Shola [Ameobi], Peter [Lovenkrands] or Hatem [Ben Arfa].

“You have to take it as a positive. It’s not a negative that Demba is going – he is off to play for his country and that is because he is playing so well for us. He will get plenty of games and goals and will come back just as sharp as he is now. Of course we will miss him but we’ve got a good squad of players and we will cope.”

Best, who scored six goals in 11 games following Carroll’s move to Liverpool last January, was a substitute against the Premier League champions but could return to frontline duties when Newcastle host Blackburn in the FA Cup on Saturday.

The former Southampton and Coventry City player believes that he just needs Lady Luck to smile on him as he attempts to get back among the goals.

“When I’m not scoring I just try to contribute, work hard and create chances and I’m doing that. If I’m not hitting the back of the net then I’m getting chances for Demba and other people to take,” the 25-year-old Republic of Ireland international added.

“That’s part and parcel of football and part of my game. I try to help others. You always want to score but it’s not always about that. Demba and other people are scoring at the minute and my time will come again.

“I just need a little goal to get myself back up there. I have confidence in my own ability. I think I am going to score every time I step on the pitch. I train well, I’m always scoring in training and it’s now just about getting that little bit of luck on the pitch. My goals will come, I’m confident of that.”

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