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Darts-mad Ba hitting the target

Striker Demba Ba claims that playing darts has helped him settle in and start scoring at Newcastle United.

• Pardew targets Toon trophy

Ba joined Newcastle on a three-year deal from West Ham United in June and has scored five goals in his last three games to help keep the Magpies flying high in fourth place in the Premier League.

The Senegal international was introduced to darts by his former agent and as the game rewards accuracy believes it has benefitted him as a striker.

"It's a nice way to relax - playing with my friends when they come to visit. It's brilliant," Ba told The Sun. "My former agent introduced me to darts by saying it was a game that would be a lot of fun.

"He knew I had to concentrate on hitting three 20s or a double or a treble - as this is a target you must achieve. Your mind is focused on accuracy.

"And it's the same in football, where I must strike the ball just to the right or left of a post. You must also be accurate to score a goal so darts is a great way of learning how to concentrate on a target."

Ba hit his first treble for Newcastle against Blackburn last month and hasn't looked back since.

Despite losing star players like Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan this summer, Newcastle have not struggled as expected. Ba put's that down to the inspired signings of Yohan Cabaye and Gabriel Obertan by manager Alan Pardew.

"We have the players to do very well - quality performers who can maintain this standard for the whole season," the 26-year-old said. "Take a player like Yohan for example. For you guys in England, he's been a surprise. But I knew him before - when I was playing in France.

"When I heard he was going to Newcastle, it helped me decide to join too. I thought a player like him would not join unless it was something good. Playing with these kind of people makes your own game better.

"I don't think we can play like this and then in two or three weeks it'll be hard to achieve the same results.

"It's early and finishing top will be really tough. You look at the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea - those teams are only winning. They also have players with experience of lifting important trophies.

"We're not looking at winning the Premier League. However if we can be close to those clubs then there's a chance of achieving something good like reaching the Champions League."

Newcastle welcome Wigan Athletic to St James Park on Saturday and can go joint third in the Premier League with a victory.


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