CHEIK Tiote will be catapulted straight back into Newcastle United’s starting line-up for Saturday’s top-of-the-table encounter with Manchester City.
Tiote has missed the last two matches after injuring his knee in of last month’s 1- 0 win over Wigan Athletic.
In his absence, Danny Guthrie has returned to produce two stand-out displays in the wins over Stoke and Everton, and the former Liverpool midfielder outlined his determination to hold on to his place prior to the international break.
However, Tiote has now been passed fit to return to full training, and it is understood Alan Pardew will restore the Ivory Coast international to his starting side at the Etihad Stadium.
After performing superbly in his first season in English football last term, Tiote has not quite matched the stellar standards he has set for himself in the first three months of the current campaign.
Pardew still regards him as one of his most important players though, and his relationship with fellow midfielder Yohan Cabaye has been a key factor in Newcastle’s 11-game unbeaten run.
Guthrie has impressed Pardew in recent matches, to the extent that the Magpies manager has initiated contract talks with the 24-year-old, who is due to become a free agent next summer.
But that will not prevent Tiote lining up on Saturday afternoon as Newcastle look to become the first club to defeat Manchester City in the league this season.
The African insists he is not taking anything for granted after sitting out the last two matches, but his place in United’s preferred XI remains assured.
“It’s been very frustrating for me to have missed the last two games, especially as we have started the season so well,” said Tiote, who missed out on international duty this week in order to complete his recovery from injury. “Danny came in and did a very good job too.
“He fitted into the team so well. It shows how good our squad is and also that even if I am fit, the manager has options to change the team.
“It is good that we all have to fight for our positions in the team. Dan Gosling did well too when he came on, and he is pushing for a starting place.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle youngster Freddie Woodman has been selected in the England Under-16 squad for the final Victory Shield game against Scotland despite being two years younger than most of his team-mates.
Woodman, 14, is one of two goalkeepers selected, and is the son of Magpies goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman. He joined the club from Crystal Palace at the same time as his father, and has already made his debut for Newcastle reserves.