Cisse returns to Newcastle training
Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse is glad to be able to concentrate on football again after his exile from the squad came to an end.
The Senegal international missed the club's training camp in Portugal after refusing to wear the club's Wonga-sponsored shirt or training kit because of his religious beliefs. Cisse hopes his self-imposed absence will not be a problem and hopes to have his fitness levels up to Premier League standards well before the start of the season on Aug. 19 at Manchester City.
"It has been a very difficult time for me and the club, and also for the fans," Cisse said. "I have had some useful discussions with my club, my family and Islamic teachers in the last few weeks. After a huge amount of thought and reflection, I have made the decision to follow my teammates and wear the kit.
"Now I think it is important for the team and the fans that we concentrate 100 per cent on football. Although I did not go to Portugal on the training camp, I was back here working hard on my fitness and preparing for the start of the new season.
"Since then, it has been great to be training with my teammates again. I feel great and ready to go, and cannot wait to be out there against St Mirren on Tuesday and to play my part for the team."
Photographs published in a national newspaper last week showing the frontman at Aspers Casino did little to strengthen his case with gambling also prohibited by his religion. But Newcastle reached an agreement with the 28-year old to settle the dispute.
The news will come as a major boost to manager Alan Pardew, who was already looking to recruit two strikers this summer before the Cisse problem emerged. It coincided with speculation that Russian clubs Anzhi Makhachkala and Rubin Kazan were ready to make lucrative offers in a bid to lure Cisse to eastern Europe.
Cisse arrived at St. James' Park in a £9million switch from German side Freiburg in January last year and was an instant hit as he scored 13 goals in his first 14 appearances. However, he was only able to manage the same number for the entire campaign as the Magpies, who lost his strike-partner Demba Ba to Chelsea during the winter transfer window.
The club have been linked for much of the summer with Aston Villa's out-of-favor England striker Darren Bent, and more recently with Lyon's Bafetimbi Gomis. Cisse is expected to rejoin the squad for full training having missed the tour of Portugal due to the issue.