Papiss Cisse will return to the Newcastle United line-up for tonight’s friendly at St Mirren after settling his dispute with the club over their new shirt sponsor – and the Magpies look well worth backing for the win.
The Senegal striker’s future had been in doubt after he refused to wear a kit bearing the name of controversial payday loans firm Wonga, claiming the £24m deal offended his Muslim faith and personal beliefs.
Cisse was left at home to train by himself as the Toon embarked on a pre-season tour of Portugal but he was forced into an embarrassing climbdown after being pictured apparently playing blackjack in a Newcastle casino.
The return of the former Freiburg star is a timely boost for boss Alan Pardew, who has grown frustrated by the club’s failure to bring in any new signings so far this summer.
Lyon’s Bafetimbi Gomis is among several targets being pursued by director of football Joe Kinnear as Pardew desperately seeks striking reinforcements, but the current Magpies crop should prove too strong for St Mirren.
Newcastle are the 2/5 favourites to claim victory in Paisley and that price looks preferable to the 16/5 on a draw or the 21/4 on the Saints, who have been far from impressive in pre-season.
Danny Lennon’s men were thumped 4-0 by Championship outfit Charlton Athletic in Marbella, lost 4-2 to both Queen of the South and Morton, and laboured to a 1-0 win over Conference side Stockport County in their most recent outing.
They have shipped goals 12 goals in five matches to date and will surely struggle to resist a strong Newcastle line-up featuring Cisse and the likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Yoan Gouffran, Chieck Tiote and Fabricio Coloccini.
With that in mind, backing an away win is surely an opportunity that is too good to miss, even at the relatively short price of 2/5.