Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has told the Evening Chronicle that he has been “surprised” by Papiss Cisse’s fitness levels ahead of the new campaign.
“We were a bit surprised with Papiss,” Pardew said. “We did what we could with him in the background, but it wasn’t easy for him. He’s coped very, very well.”
Pardew said his squad was in “great condition” ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox, but voiced fears that injuries could yet strike.
“It’s a dangerous week,” he said. “Their levels have been very high and, if we are going to get an injury, it might be this week.”
Newcastle, who begin the season at Manchester City on August 19, have bolstered their attacking options with the arrival of Loic Remy on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
Nonetheless, the resolution of the Cisse is a major boost for the side given his past contributions to the club.
Pardew, though, said he did not involve himself in the Wonga issue, which related to the forward’s Muslim faith.
“I didn’t think it would be fair for me to try and persuade him one way or the other because it was a decision that was based on his faith,” he told Sports Direct News. “There are contracts in place for the football club and the player so it was a delicate situation that had to be handled not just by lawyers but also religious leaders and the PFA to make sure that we did this in the correct manner.
“All I did was offer him my support with whatever decision he made. I think the club handled the situation very well. I think Papiss and his representatives handled it well. We’ve overcome the issue and that benefits the football club because he is a great player.”