NEWCASTLE UNITED are confident influential midfielder Cheik Tiote will be back to lead the push to stay among the Premier League's top six after withdrawing him from tonight's Carling Cup outing.

Tiote injured his right knee in Saturday's 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic at St James' Park and, as well as being ruled out of tonight's fourth round tie at Blackburn, he has also been rated doubtful for Monday's trip to Stoke City.

But Newcastle are playing down suggestions Tiote will be missing for longer and there is even an outside chance that he will figure at the Britannia Stadium next week.

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Nevertheless the African's absence will provide Pardew with a further opportunity to hand some first team action to teenager Mehdi Abeid.

The 19-year-old, who impressed in the previous round's success at Nottingham Forest, could be Tiote's replacement in January if he heads for the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.

Abeid has impressed everyone at St James' Park since moving from RC Lens with his attitude and approach to life on Tyneside and Pardew is keen to give him as much experience as he can this season.

Newcastle are also likely to be without Steven Taylor. His fractured nose, also sustained against Wigan, has been treated and a decision will be made later today.

If the centre-back fails to make it then James Perch will be given the opportunity to show he should still form part of the manager's plans after falling out of favour.

Whoever plays, Pardew thinks Newcastle could be helped in their pursuit of a place in the fifth round by protests which are likely to take place at Ewood Park against Blackburn manager Steve Kean.

Kean was with his Newcastle counterpart during their time at Reading, when both were taking their first steps towards a managerial post.

Pardew said: "Steve worked with the youth team at Reading back then, he was brought in by Tommy Burns, who knew him from his Celtic days.

"Tommy took him up to the first team where he became assistant and I was still with the reserves. He is a good person, he understands the game. He is a battler and will come out fighting.

"He's having a tough time with the home fans and that makes it tough for the team. It's a tough agenda for them, but it's not something they can't come through."

Protests among the fans is not something new to Pardew. During his time in charge at West Ham United and Charlton he experienced hostile home crowds.

And even in his first few months at Newcastle he had to try to lead his players in to matches against strong criticism directed towards the club's owner, Mike Ashley.

"It's very important that Blackburn get a result, so I feel they will be very strong," said Pardew, expected to make a couple of changes tonight but kept his intentions close to his chest.

"It will be about desire and doing your job to the best of your ability on the night. They have an advantage - they're the home side and penalties and extra-time would be on their pitch. It's a tough game for us."

Pardew added: "But protests can be damaging, very damaging. It affects everyone at the club because you get a different reaction from your staff than you do when everything is going well.

"You have to be strong enough to deal with it all. It gets to the stage where Mick (McCarthy) was at the weekend with Wolves where there's a lot of pent-up frustration.

"Mick is a true warrior and I expect Mick to kick on after that. That late equaliser might be one of the most important goals of the season for Wolves. That's what can happen in situations like that."