The Senegalese forward grabbed a hat-trick in a 3-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers but has been restricted to mostly substitute appearances this season because of a lack of fitness.

"He's had a slow start here because of mainly Ramadan in my view. He had a couple of substitute appearances where he just started to show a little bit of sharpness but I thought he was terrific at Aston Villa and made us control the midfield without actually threatening the goal," Pardew said.

"He did that today and he threatened the goal and he got his three goals. The two strikers in particular were brilliant today and Leon Best had his best game for me and didn't score."

"Strikers thrive on goals and that confidence that Demba's going to get from those three goals here in front of the Toon army will have done him the power of good."

Blackburn boss Steve Kean blamed the officials for allowing a controversial Ba goal in which he suggested defender Scott Dann was fouled in the build-up.

"I thought the overall turning point was the decision for their third goal because for us hitting the top of the bar and getting an equaliser it was tough, because we feel it was a foul on Scott Dann as he was about to clear the ball off the line," Kean said.

"I think it was a good back-post header but I think Scott's just about to head it off the line and we feel that Leon [Best] has come over the top of Dann and Scott's been pushed into Paul Robinson."

"It's not only we feel that it's a foul but we also pick up a card for Martin Olsson protesting against that goal. I think you can always tell by the reaction of the players, the Newcastle players all looked at the linesman expecting to see a flag go up but it never came."

"I said please look at the game [to the referee], please look at the decisions, give me your honest opinion because I don't think you'll see a clearer foul. I think if it's anywhere else on the pitch never mind the box you always get, if the defender's looking at the ball and he's just about the jump and clear it and he feels someone coming over the top of him and takes him out of the line of the ball, you'll normally get a foul. So I was surprised by that."

Pardew was having nothing of the controversy, however, dismissing any notion of a foul.

"I didn't think there was anything wrong with it I thought Demba just got a little header on it and looped it over the goalie. I don't think it was a game-deciding goal," he said.