When questioned about his centre-forward’s outstanding start to his career at St.James’ Park, Alan Pardew said about Demba  Ba; ‘If I knew he’d perform to that level he would have got the No 9 shirt. Ithink Demba Ba’s all-round ability in terms of goals and everything he has given us has been a real big bonus this year.

‘On Saturday [in the 0-0 draw with Swansea] a couple of things he did were exceptional, even though we didn’t score.  We have a real talent there and we will miss him for the African Cup of Nations in mid January.’

If you’d asked most fans in August it would have been a resounding no!,  if they’d been asked whether Demba Ba could fill the number nine shirt.

Four months on and he’s been arguably player of the season so far and has the goals to show for it.

There are a good few number nines down the years that I wouldn’t have minded not getting any shirt, never mind the number nine!