Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has revealed he will be sending scouts to the Africa Cup of Nations when the tournament kicks off on January 21.
With Demba Ba and Chiekh Tiote both set to take part in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea for Senegal and Ivory Coast respectively, Pardew faces a potentially tough month ahead as he seeks to find cover for two of his most influential players this season.
However, the former West Ham boss is determined to use the tournament to his advantage, as he seeks to identify the best talent the continent has to offer - with Ba’s Senegal team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse reportedly close to a move to the Premier League outfit.
When asked if he intended to send scouts to the competition, he told The Shields Gazette: “Yes – we’re going to monitor it.”
Pardew not only has to cope with the loss of Ba and Tiote, but is also in the process of finalising contract talks with a number of key players – including Fabricio Coloccini, Danny Simpson and Danny Guthrie.
While the 50-year-old admits that the January transfer window is an uncomfortable time for coaches, he is confident the club can come through a potentially turbulent period unscathed.
“It’s a horrible time for managers,” he added. “Everybody’s being speculated to be with us.
“The players we have at Newcastle get speculated about. The players who are doing great then pitch in about new contracts.
“It is a lot to cover. You can’t cover it all, but we’re doing our best.”
Ba and Tiote could well be missing for the next month, and while Pardew noted that some concern over the players’ fitness is inevitable, he has backed the improved organisation of the tournament to allow his stars to return unharmed.
“I think you are always going to worry,” the 50-year-old said.
“We have two guys out there, but it’s a bit more professional and well run organisation than it used to be. The federations look after the players better.”