Newcastle welcome back Cheik Tiote to face Swansea City
NEWCASTLE United will welcome back Cheik Tiote with open arms when they face Swansea City this weekend as the influential midfielder returns from suspension.
Tiote has just completed a three-match ban for a reckless lunge on Sunderland's Steven Fletcher.
And Newcastle are delighted to have the Ivory Coast enforcer back as they look to improve their patchy form.
Alan Pardew has suggested the Toon can compete for a place in the Champions League this season — but they are currently only one place above Swansea in mid-table after a run of win in their last six Premier League games.
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The influential Tiote has been missed — particularly in a physical battle with West Ham last Sunday, when powerhouse Mohamed Diame impressed for the visitors in a 1-0 win on Tyneside.
"Cheik will be back for Swansea, and he's important to us," said Pardew. "We miss him in these physical games.
"Diame's power was there to see. He kept running with the ball, and keeping it for periods in the game. He wouldn't have been able to do that against Cheik, for sure."
Though Tiote returns, Newcastle will again be without the suspended Fabricio Coloccini when Swansea visit following his red card at Liverpool last week.
And there are also doubts over another Argentina international, Jonas Gutierrez, after he limped out of the West Ham defeat with a leg injury.
Papiss Cisse also came off early with a back problem, but Newcastle hope both players will be fit in time to face Swansea.
Pardew, who was already without the likes of James Perch and Ryan Taylor, refused to blame Newcastle's Europa League trip to Belgium last Thursday after the Hammers setback.
"It was nothing to do with Europe. We made so many changes it's not an excuse," he said.
"We just didn't start the game well. We were lacking the verve and imagination to unlock them.
"We must have had eight or nine shots on target. The team was fresh so there's no excuse."