Newcastle United are planning to build a room dedicated to prayer for their three in-form attackers.
Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse are all devout Muslims and have been arguably the club’s best players this season. Magpies' manager Alan Pardew will be hoping his front trio carry on their superb form and fire them into the Champions League, denting Manchester City’s title hopes along the way, when the two teams meet on Sunday.
And Pardew has revealed that the religious beliefs held by these three players have played a key role in getting the club to their current lofty position in the Premier League. He is even contemplating installing prayer rooms at the training facilities and the Sports Direct Arena.
He told The Mail on Sunday: “It’s something I’ve discussed with club secretary Lee Charnley as I think it’s important. We look after the players and their religious backgrounds.
“Even at the stadium, it’s not an ideal situation. It’s something we’re looking at. Religion plays an important role for some of our players.
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“You have to respect that some players have a different religion to most of the footballers in this country. We need different facilities for them. It’s important that whatever the religion, we take care of it and understand it.”
The culture of the Premier League has changed over the years and the English top-flight is now home to a host of players who are adherents of the Muslim faith, including Yaya and Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri, Edin Dzeko, Ali Al-Habsi, Salomon Kalou, Mamady Sidibe and Marouane Chamakh.
When Newcastle and Manchester City clash on Sunday, all eyes will be on the in-form Cisse as his sensational strikes against Chelsea in midweek have taken his goal tally to 13 in just 12 games.
Pardew has revealed that Cisse’s English is improving and he is now able to hold a conversation with him. He added: “I’m having the odd conversation with him now — he’s getting there.”