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Free signing from West Ham has netted 14 times in 19 appearances and only has Robin van Persie ahead of him in the goalscoring charts, but boss still reeling from Englishman's exit

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has hailed free signing Demba Ba as a great piece of business for the club, but admitted losing Andy Carroll in January left the team "dejected" and in a "vulnerable position".

Ba has effectively replaced £35 million striker Carroll, who faces his old club on Friday for current employers Liverpool, and Pardew is still left with a bitter taste in his mouth over the England international's departure.

He told The Telegraph: “When Andy Carroll left, it was as disappointing a week as I’ve had at this football club. You do not expect to lose a player of such significance on the last day and it put us in a very vulnerable position.

“After selling Carroll we lost at Fulham, which was probably the worst game of my stewardship. There is no doubt that was an after-effect of the Carroll sale.

“We felt it on the pitch. Even myself, I was feeling a bit dejected at that time. You arm yourself never to be in that position, but you can’t help taking away human emotions. So I couldn’t fault the players either.”

Carroll's replacement, Ba, has scored 14 times in 19 appearances for Newcastle after joining from West Ham over the summer.

Pardew first came across the Senegalese forward during his time at Hoffenheim in Germany and is not as surprised as others have been by his prolific form.

“We have done some good business there," he continued.

“It’s about good scouting and finding the players with the potential to be a success.

“I’m not surprised by Ba’s record, although you do look at it and think, ‘wow, that’s fantastic’ I am not surprised by anything he has done, I always thought he was a good player.

“Last year at West Ham, he played out of position sometimes in a wide area and still did a job. You have to admire the way he is as a person to deliver the best he can in whatever position he is in.”

Pardew counts Cheik Tiote's late volley against Arsenal as the turning point under his stewardship as they completed one of the best comebacks in Premier League history by coming from four goals down to level the game.

He added: “That Arsenal fightback was amazing, we really turned our season around in that second half. Where we are in the table, three points behind Arsenal, it’s not realistic for us to be where we are.

“We have done extraordinarily well to be where we are. We have done incredibly and we are looking to continue.”

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