Demba Ba says he is mentally strong enough to handle the pressure that comes with being a Newcastle player, and is ready to hit the ground running in front of the passionate St James' Park faithful.
Newcastle take on Arsenal and Sunderland in their first two matches of the new season - with the former a repeat of the dramatic 4-4 draw during the last campaign, while a trip to the Stadium of Light represents an early opportunity for Ba to get accustomed to the fierce north-east rivalry.
But the Senegalese striker insists he has the strength both inside and out to cope with a high pressure start with the Magpies, as pre-season training begins in preparation for the hurdles ahead.
“Mentally I am very strong,” Ba said. “Every time I step on the pitch it is to win, no matter Swansea or Man U, I want to win. You have to be mentally strong to play at a club like this.
“It is a good thing that there is pressure here and the crowd are demanding and need entertaining. If you are a good, strong player you can thrive on that and rise to the challenge.
“Even when there is pressure and expectation, football is all about having fun. I will always be happy on a football pitch. As soon as I am not happy, I will quit.”
Ba, 26, signed for West Ham from Bundesliga club Hoffenheim in January, and went on to score seven times as the east London club dropped into the Npower Championship.
The Hammers' relegation allowed Ba to activate a release clause in his contract, and he signed for Newcastle as a free agent last month.
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